BY SAMANTHA HEARN
The Federal Trade Commission has dismissed Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s request to investigate the Clinton Foundation, a nonprofit that she said has been operating illegally outside of the U.S., saying that her concerns fall outside of the FTC’s authority.
Blackburn represents Tennessee’s 7th District, which includes Williamson County.
In July of this year, Blackburn asked the FBI, IRS and FTC to look into concerns about the foundation’s dealings with Uranium One, a uranium mining company owned by the Russian government with headquarters in Toronto, as well as operations in Australia, Canada and Kazakhstan.
According to a letter that Blackburn circulated to other House members earlier this year, Hillary Clinton was one of several Obama administration officials who approved the sale of uranium to Uranium One, whose various stakeholders also donated millions to the Clinton Foundation.
“The Commission generally lacks jurisdiction over non-profit entities under the Federal Trade Commission Act,” a response from FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez said. It also said that, “though we can take action against unfair or deceptive practices, such as misrepresentations by a ‘sham charity,’ when we can establish that the entity claiming to be a charity is in fact operating for its own profit or that of its members.”
Blackburn said that the FTC’s response is “inadequate,” and that “the lack of transparency by the Clinton Foundation raises issues of deception and false claims.”
Blackburn said recently that the Clinton Foundation has been on her radar since before the Uranium One deal was reported in the media this year.
“It’s been on my mind since May 2015 when four cancer-related charities out of East Tennessee were shut down by the federal government and the IRS,” Blackburn said. “The reason was because they were giving less than 50 percent of what they brought in to meet their state admission. The FTC felt their overhead for their salaries, benefits and compensation was too high for the amount of money they were bringing in.”
She said that in reviewing those situations, she and her legal counsel began to look at other charities as well and suggested that the Clinton Foundation’s global initiatives were illegal, and that they were violating IRS codes for exemption.
“They never filed their paperwork to allow them to move into global outreach and global missions,” Blackburn said.
She also said she sent an initial letter to the IRS about her concerns and was joined by 58 other members of Congress.
“The IRS sent me a condescending, and not even signed, letter that they were happy to have received the information, but they did nothing with it,” she said. “We sent a second letter to the FTC last year.”
Blackburn added that while right now they don’t know exactly what the Clinton Foundation structure is, the letter sent in July had 78 members of Congress in conjunction. She said that the issue is one of “fairness and accountability that needs to be addressed.”
“The FTC’s own website encourages the public to review the trustworthiness of charities using tools such as Charity Navigator,” Blackburn said. “Incredibly, Charity Navigator has the Foundation on a ‘Watch List’ until December 2015 and is unable to rate the Foundation because of its ‘atypical business model.’”
Blackburn also said that in 2013, the Better Business Bureau determined that the Clinton Foundation didn’t meet it’s “transparency and accountability requirements,” and that “the Clinton Foundation’s practices are blatantly deceptive.”
The IRS and the FBI have not yet responded to Blackburn’s request. Check back with Home Page Media Group for updates.
Samantha Hearn reports for Home Page Media Group. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @samanthahearn.