Saudi Arabia, George Soros On Clinton Donor List The former president's foundation ended years of secrecy by naming its donors. The information dump came about to stave off problems that could sink Hillary Clinton's Cabinet job. The list included enough big money and enough big names to catch the attention of conservatives, journalists and bloggers.

Saudi Arabia, George Soros On Clinton Donor List

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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

From NPR News, this is All Things Considered. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

And I'm Robert Siegel. The foundation led by former President Bill Clinton ended years of secrecy today. It released the names of its more than 200,000 donors. Many are countries such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. The two top donors, both charities, gave more than $25 million each. The list could provide fodder for critics next month when Senator Hillary Clinton faces her confirmation hearing to become secretary of state. NPR's Peter Overby reports.

PETER OVERBY: The sources of Clinton Foundation money have been a mystery and an occasional controversy for 11 years, ever since the foundation began seeking contributions in the middle of President Clinton's second term. As an ex-president, Clinton has used the funds for seven initiatives, among them fighting HIV and AIDS and controlling greenhouse gases. The foundation built the Clinton Presidential Library and finances the high-profile Clinton Global Initiative. The two top donors turned out to be the Children's Investment Fund Foundation in Britain and UNITAID, a multinational charity that promotes low-cost drugs for impoverished regions. Among other donors: the governments of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, and Oman.

In a different vein, the list includes some prominent liberal moneymen, including Peter Lewis and Steven Bing, not to mention George Soros. Also onboard are some corporations - All-Tel, Entergy, Duke Energy - plus foundations from Citibank and Bank of America. The Clinton Foundation said nearly 90 percent of the contributions were $250 or less. But there's enough big money and enough big names to catch the attention of conservatives, journalists, and bloggers. One of those bloggers is Steve Clemons at the New America Foundation. He publishes the Washington Note.

Mr. STEVE CLEMONS (Director, American Strategy Program, New America Foundation): Everyone is going to be measuring Hillary Clinton's behavior and decisions and where she speaks based upon a look back at the list of Bill Clinton's buddies.

OVERBY: Buddies who wrote checks, that is. There's no law requiring a former president's nonprofit foundation to disclose its donors, and the Clintons had resisted any release of names. This massive information dump came about because the Clintons and President-elect Obama's advisers all realized that without it, suspicions of conflict of interest would sink Hillary Clinton's appointment. So Steve Clemons has some advice for the secretary-designate.

Mr. CLEMONS: The best thing that I think Hillary Clinton should do with this donor list of her husband's is to know it, ignore it and even find a few people on the list to make sure she stiffs.

OVERBY: Some possibilities for stiffing a donor might be found among Internet and media companies that contributed, such as Google and the foundation of The News Corporation, part of Rupert Murdoch's media empire. Those corporations do business in China, where the government pressures them to censor news and dissenting voices. Larry Cox is director of Amnesty International USA.

Mr. LARRY COX (Director, Amnesty International USA): But what we'll be looking at more than the list is we'll be looking very carefully at what the new administration, including the new secretary of state, does on the Internet issues, which are very real and alive in China.

OVERBY: Today's disclosure won't get the Clinton Foundation many points for transparency. The foundation presented the 205,000 names spread over 2,900 Web pages. It listed donors by category, not by actual amount, and it gave no dates, so you can't tell if someone gave 10 years ago or last month. But those problems only slow down the exploration. They don't stop it. So for those who follow Hillary Clinton's diplomatic career, the list could end up as a standard reference work. Peter Overby, NPR News, Washington.

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