CEDAR FALLS, Iowa — The Chicago media executive hosting Hillary Clinton at his home for an afternoon fundraiser Wednesday ranks in the elite category of those who have given at least $25 million to the Clinton Foundation.
But the Clinton Foundation’s own public records on Fred Eychaner’s contributions illustrate the problems the organization has had with disclosing its donations, bringing it under harsh scrutiny and causing Clinton political trouble as she ramps up her presidential campaign.
But it’s not certain that Eychaner personally gave more than $25 million. The Clinton Foundation confirmed that the Alphawood Foundation’s $7.25 million is included in Eychaner’s total, and Alphawood executive director James McDonough told POLITICO that his “understanding is that they’ve lumped all our donations under Fred Eychaner’s name.” It remains unclear whether whether Eychaner would still be above the $25 million threshold if the Alphawood donations were not included in his donation total.
While the Clinton Foundation voluntarily discloses its donors and faces no legal consequences for unclear listings like these , the organization’s finances have become a political flash point for Clinton in the early days of her campaign for the White House — and the lack of clarity in Eychaner’s gifts could raise further questions about the Clinton Foundation’s transparency.
The foundation told Reuters in April that it would refile five of its tax reports after the discovery of errors in its reporting of donations from foreign governments — though the foundation did not say on Tuesday whether it would update its site to reflect that some of the money attributed to Eychaner actually came through his foundation.
Clinton and her family have repeatedly defended the philanthropic work of the Clinton Foundation, but it has faced tough scrutiny as she has kick-started her political operation in the past two months. Clinton insisted on Tuesday she is “proud” of the group, saying its wide range of donors is a testament to its work. But the foundation has been criticized for accepting money from foreign governments and for not properly disclosing some of its contributions. Critics have said the group has been a vehicle for foreign interests to influence Bill and Hillary Clinton, allegations the foundation and campaign have swiftly and forcefully rebutted.
Nonetheless, Eychaner’s filing status on the website is unusual. Some foundation backers whose names are disclosed on the site are explicitly listed alongside their foundations, such as “Cheryl and Haim Saban & The Saban Family Foundation,” who have together given the Clinton Foundation from $10 million to $25 million. Like Eychaner, the billionaire Haim Saban hosted Clinton for a campaign fundraiser at his home in Los Angeles earlier this month.
But in Eychaner’s case, his connection to the Alphawood Foundation — which says it works with organizations that focus on “architecture and preservation, the arts and arts education, promotion and protection of the rights of LGBT citizens and people living with HIV/AIDS, and other human and civil rights” — is not noted on the Clinton Foundation site, and the group’s listed donation total is far less than an accurate accounting of its contributions.
The only other individual reported to have given over $25 million to the Clinton Foundation — Frank Giustra, who has himself been the subject of intense scrutiny in news reports and a new book because of his own relationship with the foundation — is listed alongside his Radcliffe Foundation, making Eychaner the only individual listed at that high level without a disclosed institutional tie.
Eychaner is a longtime Democratic donor who supported Clinton in 2008 before becoming a prominent backer of President Barack Obama: He gave Obama’s foundation $1 million in its first year of operation, tax forms revealed on Monday, and a December POLITICO analysis showed he was the country’s fifth-biggest donor in the 2014 election cycle.
His political representative did not respond to a request for comment.
Josh Gerstein contributed to this report.