The New York Times is clamming up about the specific date Bill and Hillary Clinton contributed $100,000 to the paper’s charity group in 2008, but denies the donation played a role in its coverage and endorsement of Clinton in the Democratic primaries that year.
The Washington Free Beacon reported on Sunday that the Clinton Family Foundation, a little-known philanthropic organization controlled by the Clintons, donated $100,000 to the New York Times Neediest Cases Fund in 2008. The charity is administered by the paper and run by top brass at the Times Company.
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On Jan. 25, 2008, the Times endorsed Hillary Clinton over challengers Barack Obama and John Edwards. At the time there were reports that the editorial board had been leaning toward endorsing Obama but switched after then-publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. intervened in favor of Clinton.
Times spokesperson Eileen Murphy told the Free Beacon on Monday that the Clinton donation had no bearing on the editorial board’s decision.
"NO donation to The Neediest Cases Fund has ever had any impact on a Times endorsement," said Murphy in an email. "Not this one. Not any other one over 100 years. We're not commenting further."
Murphy declined to say what date the donation was made, and whether any other candidates have contributed to the charity. Clinton ended her presidential run on June 7, 2008.
A Clinton spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment about the date of the donation.
The New Republic and Vanity Fair reported in 2008 that the Times endorsement may have been influenced by pressure from Sulzberger, whose family controlled the paper at the time. Two of Sulzberger’s cousins—who were also on the Times Company board of directors—chaired the New York Times Neediest Cases Fund in 2008, along with other top executives at the media company.
"The Times editorial board was, apparently, planning to endorse Barack Obama in the New York primary; the Clinton campaign, getting wind of this, called upon one of its major financial supporters [Steven Rattner], the best friend and principal adviser of Arthur Sulzberger Jr.," Michael Wolff wrote in Vanity Fair.
"Rattner is thought to have petitioned Sulzberger, and Sulzberger thereupon overruled his editorial board, which then backed Clinton."
Times editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal denied at the time that Sulzberger tipped the scales in favor of Clinton, calling the Vanity Fair story "completely false."
The Clinton Family Foundation is separate from the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation. The organization is financed directly by the Clintons and they use it to contribute to personal charitable causes.
A review of the Clinton Family Foundation’s tax disclosures between 2006 and 2013 showed the Clintons have donated to dozens of groups, including the King Hussein Foundation, libraries that house Clinton-related document archives, and the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation.
The CFF contributed $10,000 to the now-defunct Association for Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) in 2007. ACORN, a government-subsidized group that conducted voter registration drives and advocated for increased funding for social programs, often came under fire from conservatives and watchdog groups. The organization lost its federal funding and shut down in 2010, after undercover videos by James O’Keefe appeared to show ACORN employees encouraging illegal activities.
Clinton spoke at the ACORN 2007 forum, along with other Democratic presidential candidates John Edwards and Dennis Kucinich. ACORN also launched a heavily funded registration effort in 2008, which was marred by allegations of voter fraud.