By John Solomon
When confronted by detractors, the Clinton Foundation often uses a common line of defense: The charity is one of the most scrutinized in history and no one has found anything wrong with it.
But state regulatory filings suggest that may not be true.
In December 2005, for example, the Utah Division of Consumer Protection flagged missing information in the Clinton Foundation’s federal tax filing with the IRS, known as a form 990. The state regulator specifically flagged money spent on professional fundraisers and consultants that were excluded from the required section of the filing.
The state regulator urged the charity to file “an amended IRS form 990 reporting professional fundraising/consultant fees on line 30.” In particular, officials questioned nearly a half-million dollars in consultant fees about which it wanted more detail.
The foundation's tax filing for the year in question, 2004, showed zero dollars spent on the required line for fundraising consulting expenses, even though other documents filed with the IRS identified more than $400,000.
The review was standard for a charity seeking a license to operate in Utah. The response regulators got back, however, was not so standard: Former President Clinton’s charity declined to make the change, even though Utah was suggesting the foundation's federal tax form was incomplete or misleading.
“The problem that the Foundation faces is the enormous expenses and undertaking it would be to amend its 990,” a law firm representing the Clinton Foundation wrote back.
“Given that obstacle, the Foundation has no choice but to withdraw its application to register to solicit the public in Utah.”
In lay words, the cost of properly informing the IRS and complying with federal tax law was too much, so the foundation just ditched its Utah licensing request. There is no record of amended 2004 tax form by the charity, which means Utah’s concerns about possible missing information for the IRS wasn't addressed at the federal level.
Foundation officials confirm the episode but said they believed they did not mislead the IRS because other parts of their submission included fundraising consulting expenses in a category called "Other Expenses." "Our 2004 Form 990 is complete by IRS standards as we fully disclose fundraising expenditures in Part II – Other Expenses," the foundation said in a statement emailed to me.
The Utah episode, though a decade old, and other state regulatory issues involving the Clinton Foundation are gaining new attraction because they are included in thousands of pages of documents gathered in a whistleblower submission filed last year by a firm composed of former federal law enforcement investigators, called MDA Analytics LLC.