Clinton Fundraiser Highlights Donor Disclosure Discrepancies

The Clinton Foundation dramatically undercounts contributions from a Clinton campaign donor’s group

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Hillary Rodham Clinton / AP
May 21, 2015

Hillary Clinton will raise campaign money next week from a high-dollar donor to her family’s foundation, but the foundation’s donor records fail to account for hundreds of thousands of dollars of his group’s contributions.

Florida trial lawyer Ira Leesfield will host Clinton at his home in Miami’s posh Coconut Grove neighborhood for a fundraiser next week, Politico reports. He is the latest in a long line of Clinton Foundation donors to financially support the former secretary of state’s presidential bid.

Leesfield has donated between $250,000 and $500,000 to the Clinton Foundation, according to its website. His group, the Leesfield Family Charitable Foundation, is also a minor donor, the website says, having given $1,000 to $5,000.

However, documents filed with the Internal Revenue Service show that the Leesfield Foundation’s support is far higher than Clinton Foundation donor disclosures claim. In 2013 alone, Leesfield’s group gave the Foundation $75,000. It gave at least $200,000 from 2006 to 2013, those filings reveal.

The group’s 2014 IRS filings are not yet publicly available, but information on its website suggests that it continued to financially support Clinton’s foundation.

"The [Leesfield] Foundation made another major grant to the William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Library to support the ceremonies and activities which took place in Little Rock, Arkansas on November 14, 2014," its website boasted last year.

"Ira and Cynthia Leesfield were pioneers of the initial Library funding and have supported the Clinton efforts in philanthropy since President Clinton left the White House. Their work with the Clinton Global Initiative, Clinton Library and Clinton Foundation expresses the close ties between both foundations working for the public benefit."

Leesfield says on his personal website that he "generously contributes to the William J. Clinton Foundation’s worldwide mission. He raised over $500,000 to fund its initiatives."

Neither Leesfield nor the Clinton Foundation immediately responded to questions about the breakdown of those contributions, or how the information squares with disclosures on the foundation’s website.

In addition to their foundations’ close ties, Clinton and Leesfield are long-time political allies. During her swing through Florida next week, Clinton will attend a Thursday fundraiser at Leesfield’s home.

"There’s a lot of people calling to say, ‘Ira, I’ve been waiting for this, can I send you a contribution?’ Some of them are $20 and some are the max of $2,700," Leesfield told the Miami Herald last month.

He and his wife are long-time Clinton supporters and high-dollar Democratic donors. Together, they’ve contributed more than $400,000 to Democratic campaigns, party organs, and interest groups. He and his wife both maxed out to Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign.

Leesfield last year donated $10,000 to Ready for Hillary, a Super PAC backing Clinton’s presidential bid. He served on the now-defunct group’s national finance council.

His and his charitable group’s donations to the Clinton Foundation could increase scrutiny on the foundation’s public donor disclosure. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, the foundation is not bound by law to disclose its donors, and faces no legal sanctions for errors or omissions in doing so.

The foundation’s website lists another wealthy Clinton supporter, Chicago media mogul Fred Eychaner, as a top donor to the group. He has given at least $25 million, according to its website.

However, the foundation acknowledged this week that that sum came not just from Eychaner personally but also from his group, the Alphawood Foundation. The Clinton Foundation acknowledged the error after Politico noted that its IRS filings revealed more than $7 million in contributions but was only listed as a five-figure donor on its website.

Like Leesfield, Eychaner hosted an early fundraiser for Clinton. They are two of at least 14 Clinton Foundation donors that have hosted or will host Clinton for campaign fundraising events.

Another such donor, Florida trial lawyer Michael Moskowitz, will also host a fundraiser for Clinton during her swing through Florida next week. Moskowitz has donated between $25,000 and $50,000 to the Clinton Foundation, according to its website. His son, Florida state representative Jared Moskowitz, has given $1,000 to $5,000.