WASHINGTON - The world opened its wallet for Bill Clinton. Governments, corporations and billionaires with their own interests in U.S. foreign policy gave the former president's charity millions of dollars, according to records he released yesterday.
The records were released to lay bare any financial entanglements that could affect Clinton's wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, as the next secretary of state.
Saudi Arabia, Norway and other foreign governments gave at least $46 million, and donors with ties to India delivered millions more. Corporate donors included the Blackwater security firm, at risk of losing its lucrative government contract to protect U.S. diplomats in Iraq, and Web company Yahoo, involved in disputes over surrendering Internet information to Chinese authorities that led to the imprisonment of dissidents there.
Other high-profile Clinton donors don't suggest inevitable collisions between U.S. policies and their giving. Celebrities Barbra Streisand, Steven Spielberg, Paul Newman, Carly Simon and Chevy Chase all gave. Sports figures included New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, Formula One driver Michael Schumacher and owners of the Indiana Pacers basketball team.
The records account for at least $492 million in contributions to the William J. Clinton Foundation, a nonprofit created by the former president to finance his library in Little Rock, Ark., and charitable efforts in dozens of countries to reduce poverty and treat AIDS. President-elect Barack Obama made Hillary Clinton's nomination as secretary of state contingent on her husband revealing the foundation's contributors, to address questions about potential conflicts of interest.
The foundation disclosed the names of its 205,000 donors on its Web site yesterday, ending a decade of resistance to identifying them. It released only the names of donors and the range of their contributions. It did not identify each contributor's occupation, employer or nationality or provide any other details. The foundation said separately yesterday that fewer than 3,000 of its donors were foreigners but did not identify which ones.
It was not immediately clear whether the disclosures will raise any serious challenge to Hillary Clinton's nomination to be secretary of state.
Shortly after the documents were released, Hillary Clinton made another appearance at the State Department for meetings with transition aides, officials said. It was the latest of several trips to the building for the former first lady since she was nominated by Obama. Her first visit was Dec. 8, after which she had dinner with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
After negotiations with Obama's transition team, Clinton promised to reveal the contributors, submit future foundation activities and paid speeches to an ethics review, step away from the day-to-day operation of his annual charitable conference and inform the State Department about new sources of income and speeches.
Saudi Arabia gave $10 million to $25 million to the foundation. AUSAID, the Australian government's overseas aid program, and COPRESIDA-Secretariado Tecnico, a Dominican Republic government agency formed to fight AIDS, each gave $10 million to $25 million.