The founder of a veterans charity that partnered with the Clinton Global Initiative is calling on the Clinton family to cut ties with their foundation to avoid the taint of corruption.
Missouri gubernatorial candidate and former Navy SEAL Eric Greitens founded The Mission Continues to help struggling veterans rediscover purpose in their lives. The charity awards $15,000 fellowships to veterans to partner them with community service organizations. The organization has helped thousands of veterans and now raises millions of dollars each year.
The charity has rapidly expanded since its founding in 2007, garnering institutional support from multi-billion dollar foundations and Fortune 500 companies. The Mission Continues partnered with the Clinton Global Initiative in 2012.
Greitens, a Republican, now says that he is unsure he would have accepted the partnership had he known about the allegations of corruption, pay-for-play schemes, and transparency troubles that have dogged the Clinton family in recent weeks.
"Only recently have we seen the extent of the corruption," he told the Washington Free Beacon. "I have to imagine that so many people in the philanthropic and foundation world have got to be upset because this is probably the worst instance of philanthropic abuse for personal gain ever."
Neither the Clinton campaign, the Clinton Foundation, nor the Clinton Global Initiative returned requests for comment. The foundation announced on Wednesday that the Clinton family would step down from the board of the foundation in the event that Hillary Clinton is elected president.
Greitens said that timeline is unacceptable in light of revelations that donors frequently got meetings with Clinton as secretary of state after they contributed to the charity. It also accepted millions of dollars from foreign governments that had business before the State Department during her tenure. Greitens wants the Clintons to cut ties with foundation immediately in order to avoid any appearance of corruption at the charity.
"I think the Clinton Foundation needs to clean house. You need to separate the family from the foundation because you still have this perception that the foundation was selling access to the government," he said. "They need to apologize to grant recipients and to the country. They need to take responsibility for this."
He said that nonprofit groups have strict rules for accepting donations and ensuring that the source of funding is above-board. He recalled turning down lucrative contributions from companies that had done business in Iran, because it would send the wrong message to veterans given that nation’s role in the Iraqi insurgency. He said that the Clinton family’s handling of the charity could cast a shadow over its partners.
"The people funding you set a standard. The big picture effect: this can have a negative effect on the entire philanthropic system. People will ask are these foundations honest," he said. "The Clintons turned a system of generosity into a system of greed."
Greitens stepped down from his role at The Mission Continues in 2014 as he prepared to run for governor. He won the Republican nomination in August. He trails Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster by 4 points, according to the race’s latest poll.