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Berlin rejects claim it funded Clinton election campaign

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The German government has been accused of
interference in the US elections after the Clinton
Foundation listed it among donors that contributed up
to $5 million.
In the latest list of donors published on the Clinton
Foundation website, the name of Germany’s Federal
Ministry for the Environment (BMU) appears
among those which gave between €1 million and $5
million.
The money was donated to the foundation in the
third quarter of 2016 – in other words in the
decisive months leading up to the November election
in which Hillary Clinton was narrowly defeated by
Republican Donald Trump.
The Clinton Foundation was created by ex-President
Bill Clinton in 2001 after he left office. It works on
global projects on climate change, economic
development, women’s rights and global health and
has raised close to $2 billion since its inception.
Vera Lengsfeld, a citizen’s rights activist and former
MP for the Christian Democratic Union (CDU),
claimed in a blog post that “apparently the German
taxpayer has unwittingly been financing the Clinton
election campaign.”
Die Welt, which was the first German news outlet to
report the donation on Monday, asked rhetorically:
“Why should Germany pay for the US election
campaign?”
But the German government has categorically
denied the accusation that it sought to influence the
US election.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman Steffen
Seibert tweeted on Tuesday that “the money was for
two projects managed by the International Climate
Initiative. The Clinton Foundation was only a project
partner.”
The BMU explained to Die Welt that the money was
for projects supporting forestry and re-
naturalization in East Africa which are carried out by
the Clinton Foundation in Kenya and Ethiopia.
“Our experience with the Clinton Foundation has
been positive up until this point. Checks on the
projects have not led to any objections.”
The BMU also told Deutsche Welle (DW) that the
money was part of long-term funding for
environmental projects.
“The decision wasn’t made during the US election,” a
spokesperson said. “We’re talking here about projects
with a duration of 2014 to 2018. They were
approved well before the election, several years
before it in fact.”
Hartmut Bäumer, from anti-corruption
organization Transparency International, told DW
that the Clinton Foundation was at fault for the
confusion.
“It’s misleading when a payment by a government
ministry earmarked for a specific purpose, the
financing of a climate protection project, appears in
what seems to be a list of donors to a foundation,”
Bäumer said.
“In the first instance, that’s a problem at the
foundation. But in future the Environment Ministry
should ensure that payments are correctly listed
before releasing funds.”
US media have long criticized the Clinton Foundation
for a lack of transparency, although it is generally
given good ratings by charity watchdogs.
When the charity first published names of donors in
2008 before Hillary Clinton became Secretary of
State, the names of Saudi Arabia and Blackwater
Worldwide, a private military company, appeared on
the list.
In 2014 the Washington Post reported that there is
“substantial overlap between the Clinton political
machinery and the foundation”, finding evidence
that donors to her election campaign had also
regularly donated to the charity.
A contested FBI investigation is currently looking
into whether Clinton traded favours and access for
donations while she was Secretary of State.
The Swiss foreign ministry also came under scrutiny
recently when it was revealed that it donated nearly
500,000 francs to the Clinton Foundation in 2011,
when Switzerland and the US were locked in a
dispute over tax evasion

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