Elections

Is the Clinton Foundation trying to distance itself from its health initiative?

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks during a town hall meeting at Grinnell College Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015, in Grinnell, Iowa.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks during a town hall meeting at Grinnell College Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015, in Grinnell, Iowa. AP

It looks like the Clinton Foundation is trying to quietly distance itself from its global health project, which has faced days of scrutiny over its federal tax returns.

On the same day the Clinton Health Access Initiative announced it had reversed course and would refile its tax forms, the Clinton Foundation changed its website to describe the organization as “independent.”

“Today the Foundation has staff and volunteers around the world working to improve lives through several initiatives, including the independent Clinton Health Access Initiative, through which 9.9 million people in more than 70 countries have access to CHAI-negotiated prices for HIV/AIDS medications,” the foundation website says today.

The subtle change comes after the initiative known as CHAI first said it would not fix erroneous tax returns and then, after media attention, changed its mind and said it would refile its 2012 and 2013 with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service after all.

The Republican National Committee had filed a complaint with the IRS earlier this week, urging it to conduct an audit of the project and to require the group to file amended returns.

Foundation officials say the website was merely altered in the one location to bring it in line with numerous other references to CHAI. CHAI became its own 501(c)3 in 2010 and the foundation now refers to it as an “independent but affiliated organization.”

Most other sections of the Clinton Foundation website, including the section on CHAI and the section on global health were updated in June with the language that CHAI is a separate, affiliated entity. In addition, more than two dozen press releases in the last six months from the foundation use the phrase the “independent Clinton Health Access Initiative.”

The sentence was changed on the website to add the word “independent” in President Bill Clinton’s bio as well as a slightly different description of CHAI.

“Today the Foundation has staff and volunteers around the world working to improve lives through several initiatives, including the Clinton Health Access Initiative, which is helping 9.9 million people with HIV/AIDS access lifesaving drugs,” the foundation website said two days ago.

McClatchy was alerted to the change on the website by a Republican after a service that tracks changes to websites identified the alteration.

In April, Reuters reported that the organization it failed to submit several new contributions from foreign countries for a State Department ethics review as required in agreement signed when Hillary Clinton became secretary of state.

The finances of the Clinton Foundation and its affiliates have been scrutinized since Clinton began considering a second run at the presidency.

The foundation has received millions of dollars from foreign governments, raising conflict-of-interest questions as Clinton runs for the Democratic nomination for president.

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