- Date published:
10:39 am, January 11th, 2017 - 114 comments
Categories: aid, International, making shit up, spin, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, us politics, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags: jordan williams, nz taxpayers union
The Taxpayers union think they are on a roll. They claim to have discovered that MFAT under Murray McCully have been paying huge amounts of money to the Clinton Foundation no doubt for nefarious reasons. But there are a couple of slight problems with their discovery …
Taking advantage of the quiet news cycle that currently exists they released this press release this morning based on a MFAT letter dated December 1, 2016 which was a while ago. The story has been picked up by all the major dailies.
The Taxpayers’ Union can reveal that the Government has budgeted to give another $5.5 million dollars of taxpayers’ money to the controversial Clinton Foundation, despite Mrs Clinton’s failed US Presidential bid and controversy over improper ties between the Clinton Foundation, the State Department and donations from foreign governments to the foundation while Ms Clinton was US Secretary of State.
Figures obtained by the Taxpayers’ Union under the Official Information Act show that to date Kiwi taxpayers have forked out $7.7 million to the Clinton Foundation’s “Health Access Initiative” with $2.5 million and $3 million earmarked for 2017 and 2018 respectively.
Executive Director of the Taxpayers’ Union, Jordan Williams, says “Given the lessons of the Saudi Sheep saga, we are staggered that MFAT appear to still think handing out money for diplomatic purposes is sensible. Even worse, this money comes from the NZ Aid budget which should be going to programes which are the most effective at helping the world’s poor – not sidetracked into political objectives.”
“It is possible that officials have reason to believe that the Clinton Foundation’s work does provide good value for money, although given the controversy in the US that seems unlikely. The refusal to front up and explain leaves a stench of buying political access.”
“Given New Zealand’s faux pas in co-sponsoring the UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel on Christmas Eve, and the heavy criticism of New Zealand which has resulted, the continued support of the Clinton Foundation risks even more damage to New Zealand’s ability to wield any influence in the US.”
The documents relied on have been helpfully included in the release. A link is here.
But everything is not as it seems and after reading the MFAT letter I am feeling decidedly underwhelmed by the claims.
First up the letter says that the funds were paid to the Clinton Health Access Initiative which was separated from the Clinton Foundation in 2010. So claims that New Zealand has been buying political access with the Clintons by making donations to their foundation appear to be somewhat overwrought.
The letter details what the money will be spent on. The goal is “to reduce the burden of childhood malnutrition in Africa through the production, promotion and uptake of nutritious, locally produced fortified foods for 6-23 month olds and for pregnant and lactating women, as well as increased exclusive breastfeeding rates for children less than 6 months of age.”
The project has had design work and two progress reports which have been approved so that further funding can be released.
The project reads exactly like the sort of thing that New Zealand aid money should be spent on. I am trying to understand what Jordan Williams meant by saying that the money “should be going to programes which are the most effective at helping the world’s poor – not sidetracked into political objectives” because that is exactly what seems to be occurring.
And (h/t Russell Brown) it appears other states have been duped into investing in this nefarious political ponzi scheme. These include Global Affairs Canada, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Australian Government, UK Department for International Development, UNITAID, the Sweedish International Development Cooperation Agency, the Embassy of Ireland and the United Nations Children’s Fund and the World Health Organisation to name just a few.
Williams has a cheap shot at New Zealand for the “faux pas in co-sponsoring the UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel on Christmas Eve, and the heavy criticism of New Zealand which has resulted”. The only criticism I am aware of is from Israel and from Donald Trump and sort of from Australia while the rest of the world is in support of New Zealand’s principled position.
This is the second post I have written supporting Murray McCully in the past month. These really are strange times.