Washington Prowler

Bill’s Shaky Foundation

Make way for the new Cincinnati Kid. Also: Was Andy Cuomo right?

By 5.9.02

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YA GOT TROUBLE RIGHT HERE IN RIVER CITY
Ex-prez Bill Clinton apparently has been doing a lot of talking, but hasn't much to show for it beyond a fatter wallet. And that has people at his William J. Clinton Foundation (which is separate from his library foundation) a bit worried. The foundation is little over a year old and its stated mission is to focus on international humanitarian work, public service education and racial and religious conflict resolution. But donors are wondering where the money they've given the organization is going.

"The only reconciling he's been doing seems to be with his bank accounts," says one donor based in California. "Our foundation has underwritten the Clinton Foundation, but we're going to be reconsidering that support."

Perhaps that's why Clinton appears so eager to insert himself into the ongoing racial difficulties in Cincinnati. On Saturday, Clinton sat down with the Cincinnati Enquirer and said in an interview that he would be willing to visit that fair city to help heal the breach of racial mistrust between city officials and the black community. In the past year, the town has been torn apart by racial unrest and boycotts after a black youth was shot by a white police officer. Two months ago, O.J. Simpson hosted a rap concert for racial healing in Cincinnati, which amazingly didn't take. Now Clinton appears ready to follow in O.J.'s footsteps.

But wait. While Clinton may be ready, Cincinnati's mayor, Charlie Luken, isn't so sure. Luken -- a Democrat -- said he doubted he would extend an invitation to Clinton, even though Clinton clearly wants to come, but said he'd defer to him. "Clinton is grandstanding and using the Enquirer to bail out his foundation," says a Luken staffer.

According to the Luken aide, the mayor believes the Enquirer planted the question about coming to Cincinnati as a way to pressure the mayor into inviting Clinton. To be fair, an Enquirer instant poll showed 85 percent of respondents don't want Clinton to come.

Clinton is eager to travel to Cincinnati, in part, for the heavy media attention it would generate for his foundation and thus give donors a sense their money isn't being wasted.

So far the foundation has underwritten a small business program for Harlem, where Clinton's offices are based. "And he hasn't done much else. We've heard he wants to do something in the Middle East, but he's not in that picture," says the donor in California. "It's not that we don't like the guy, but we have to evaluate where to put our money, and right now it doesn't look like Clinton is doing much with what we've already given him."

Clinton, though, keeps at fundraising, if on other fronts. On Friday night in Los Angeles he'll headline a reunion of sorts of his extended White House and administration staff. The money raised will underwrite the alumni group, clintonstaff.com.

GET ME OUTTA HERE
New York Gov. George Pataki spent a recent weekend at Camp David with President Bush, discussing New York politics, 9/11 memorial plans in the Big Apple, and Pataki's future. It's well known that the governor has been hoping for a high profile presidential appointment, perhaps even the No. 2 slot on the ticket in 2004. He isn't eager to run for a third term as governor, but there is little else for him to do politically. Now he is said to be pressing the president for consideration as vice presidential material in 2004 if Dick Cheney decides to stay home for good at his "undisclosed location."

"It's always the issue that Pataki is putting on the table, if nothing else, to keep it there for Bush to remember," says a longtime adviser to Pataki. "I think Bush understands that Pataki isn't trying to pester him. Pataki just wants out of New York so badly sometimes."

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