Former President Bill Clinton and 11 wealthy Clinton Foundation donors generously served meals to 250 underprivileged children July 16, 2014, at the Akshaya Patra kitchen in Jaipur, India, as TV cameras recorded the moment.
Clinton’s group then quietly retired to Oberoi Rajvilas, a five-star “royal resort” where the former chief executive booked into Kohinoor Villa, an 11,377-square foot luxurious villa with a 60-foot swimming pool, according to the hotel’s management. The same villa today goes for $13,900 per night, not including the 21 percent government tax.
Clinton’s villa was five times as big as the average American home, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.
Jaipur was the first stop of a nine-day, five-nation Clinton Foundation junket organized for seven billionaires and four multi-millionaires as they crossed Asia and the Pacific Ocean in a custom-designed Boeing 757, originally built for nearly 300 passengers. Clinton flew separately in a luxuriously outfitted Gulfstream jet.
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The trip provides a glimpse into the lavish lifestyle of the Clinton Foundation and dozens of its wealthiest donors — all done in the name of charity, according to a Daily Caller News Foundation investigation.
The sumptuous accommodations may also have run afoul of an Internal Revenue Service prohibition of “excessive benefits” for charity board members, staff and donors.
The Clinton excesses on this particular trip were seen in several Third World nations. Indonesian officials, for example, warned the foundation that Pangkalan Bun Airport’s landing strip was too short for the Boeing 757 and that the party would have to switch to a smaller aircraft.
Officially, the Indonesian stop was to visit a Clinton Climate Initiative project where a local forest preserve was being cultivated to offset carbon emissions. But flying 41 people — donors, their families and foundation staff — aboard an aircraft designed for nearly 300 sent the trip’s “carbon footprint” sky high.
Besides Indonesia, the trip — originating in New York where the foundation is headquartered — took the Clinton entourage to Jaipur and Lucknow, India; Hanoi, Vietnam; Banda Aceh, Indonesia; Goroka, Papua New Guinea and Melbourne, Australia, for a round trip total of 23,100 nautical miles.
Between them, the 757 and Gulfstream burned 60,000 gallons of jet fuel, worth at least $220,000 using current commercial aviation rates.
Sixty thousands gallons of jet fuel produced 200 tons of carbon dioxide emissions, enough energy to power 21 average U.S. homes for a year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It would fuel a passenger car 478,000 miles in a year.
The Clinton entourage’s carbon dioxide consumption exceeded a year’s total emissions by countries like Guinea-Bissau, Tonga, the British Virgin Islands, Lichtenstein and the Solomon Islands, according to the World Bank.
Extravagant spending can mean serious trouble for a charity and its top officials.
“It is certainly possible for the IRS to take a look at this and conclude that the Clinton Foundation people were the principal beneficiaries where they derived excessive benefits,” philanthropic and charity expert Leslie Lenkowsky told TheDCNF.
“When they use tax exempt money, you’re not supposed to enrich yourself. It is tax exempt because the money is to be used for something called a ‘charitable purpose,’” Lenkowsky said.
Clinton made at least seven official foundation trips overseas between 2012 to 2015, sometimes accompanied by daughter Chelsea. The liberal W. K. Kellogg Foundation got into trouble in 2001 by spending $266,500 for three private jets that flew trustees from Michigan to Central America for “site visits,” much like the 2014 Clinton Foundation trek.
Clinton Foundation officials told the IRS in 2014 that $20.1 million was spent on travel. The Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), a separate entity, reported $13 million on travel the same year.
Neither the foundation’s auditor, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, the foundation’s 2014 annual report or the foundation’s 2014 IRS Form 990 tax return mentioned donor travel. Similarly, a June 8, 2014 foundation press advisory about the Asia-Pacific trip said nothing about its costs or that donors paid for the charter jets and the luxurious accommodations.
Neither the Clinton Foundation nor CHAI have written travel policies except for the Clinton family. The Clintons are entitled to first class or chartered travel for security reasons, according to foundation’s Form 990 — it’s banned, however, for CHAI and the Clinton Foundation staff.
Section 4958 of the Internal Revenue Code addresses “private benefits” for philanthropic insiders, stating that “private benefit involves benefits to anyone other than the intended charitable class. Such private interests may include insiders, related persons or unrelated third parties.”
The prohibited benefit does not have to be cash. The penalty is the repayment of the excess benefit, plus a 25 percent excise tax.
Did donors pay for the two aircraft? Charitable experts told TheDCNF that when a donor pays aircraft and hotel costs, they must be itemized as a “non-cash contribution” and the donation must be described.
No non-cash donations for private aircraft appear in the 2014 Form 990s for either the Clinton Foundation or CHAI. The foundation notes non-cash donations for securities, computer equipment and furniture. CHAI only cites receipt of securities.
Clinton has accepted many free trips from wealthy friends. InfoGroup CEO Vinod Gupta, for example, was forced to resign by the Securities and Exchange Commission for unauthorized expenditures, including $900,000 of travel he gave to “Clinton and to his family” with the company’s private jet.
The SEC said “former President Clinton and his family made improper, personal use of the company’s private jets, and Vinod Gupta did not reimburse the company for costs incurred in connection with such use.”
The Clinton Foundation did not respond to queries submitted by TheDCNF about the July 2014 trip.
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