According to the CGI University website’s description of the event,
President Clinton, Secretary Clinton, and Chelsea Clinton hosted the seventh annual CGI U meeting from March 21-23, 2014 at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona. The meeting brought together more than 1,100 innovative student leaders who made more than 700 Commitments to Action in CGI U’s five focus areas: education, environment and climate change, peace and human rights, poverty alleviation, and public health.
More than $750,000 was available to select CGI U 2014 students to help them turn their ideas into action. Through the CGI U Commitments Challenge, 32 student teams raised an additional $60,000 for their work.
Student attendees had the opportunity to attend plenary sessions, working sessions, and other special events covering topics across CGI U’s five focus areas and allowing them to network with their peers, build skills, and identify potential partnerships. Youth organizations, topic experts, and celebrities joined students at the CGI U meeting to help them gain the skills and knowledge needed to take action on their commitments.
During the last day of the CGI U meeting, attendees took part in a Day of Action in the local community with PHX Renews. To kick off the Day of Action, Chelsea Clinton and President Bill Clinton were joined by Mayor Greg Stanton of Phoenix, as well as former U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords and former astronaut Mark Kelly, co-founders of Americans for Responsible Solutions.
Reported on the CGI Wikipedia is that the foundation spends just 15 percent of the money raised through fees and donations on charitable activities; the rest is spent on overhead, including travel and salaries.
The CGI is not really a “charity”; they seem to engage in projects that while worthy and interesting, are not necessarily charitable. Before making a donation to a charitable group, one place to vet that group is Charity Navigator, which no longer rates the CGI group, stating on its site:
“We had previously evaluated this organization, but have since determined that this charity’s atypical business model cannot be accurately captured in our current rating methodology”
The charity watchdog has said that before it will remove CGI from its “watchdog list” CGI must answer questions about the foundation’s financial practices; fundraising from foreign governments and corporations; about the transparency of its reporting of its donors; and about possible conflicts of interest between donations to the foundation and the actions of Hillary Clinton when she was U.S. Secretary of State during 2009–13, and in connection with her subsequent 2016 presidential campaign. (Wiki)
One example of a CGI project is the 2011 Owner-Tenant Collaboration for Building Efficiency project launched in 2011 with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), in partnership with the New York City Mayor’s Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability (OLTPS), and the Washington D.C. Downtown Business Improvement District (DCBID).
A noteworthy project, the Collaboration for Building Efficiency—its first project is retrofitting the Empire State Building—does not quite meet the description of a charity, which is normally defined as a group that aids the poor, ill or helpless via donations or relief to those in need.
Per the website, The mission of the Clinton Global Initiative is to turn ideas into action. “Established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), an initiative of the Clinton Foundation, convenes global leaders to create and implement innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. CGI Annual Meetings have brought together 190 sitting and former heads of state, more than 20 Nobel Prize laureates, and hundreds of leading CEOs, heads of foundations and NGOs, major philanthropists, and members of the media. To date, members of the CGI community have made more than 3,200 commitments which have improved the lives of over 430 million people in more than 180 countries.”
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., was also at the 2014 event, but told the Arizona Republic that had he known the price tag, it wouldn’t have been worth it. “Frankly, if I had known that that was the situation, that they were being paid $500,000, I would have spoken up at the time that I thought it was outrageous,” McCain said.
As an elected official, and in keeping with Senate ethics rules, McCain did not receive a fee for his appearance, according to his press office.
Mark Johnson, an ASU spokesman, told The Republic’s Dan Nowicki that the fees were payment for the event—not a contribution to the Clinton Foundation. “ASU played host to the CGI University in March 2014, which featured former President Bill Clinton and former secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a program aimed at bringing together college students to find practical, innovative solutions to global challenges,” Johnson told the Republic.
The line between the Clinton family and the Clinton Foundation is very thin. “The report you cited reflects the fact that the university co-invested in this educational and promotional opportunity, which was co-produced for our students, and for students from around the world. No state funds were used for this purpose,” Johnson said.
Johnson clarified that ASU gets only a portion of its annual budget from state taxpayers with only about 14 percent of the university budget coming from taxpayer-funded resources.
Nowicki writes that ASU maintains the money used for CGI University came from other parts of its budget, which can be funded by a variety of sources, such as tuition, private donations and grants.
The university has not disclosed where the money actually came from or quantified the benefits of the events to the 1,100 students and faculty that attended.
Speaking to the Arizona Republic, McCain said: “It’s just regrettable that they did it, and I think most citizens of Arizona would think that the money could be better spent on scholarships for young citizens of our state who do not have the money to pay the tuition,” said McCain, who also has a relationship with ASU as the namesake of the McCain Institute for International Leadership, which he helped establish in 2012. “The fact is the money comes from somewhere, and that money could have been spent on far better purposes than an appearance by the Clintons.”
Students, learning of the school’s tuition increases, might agree: