Daily Doc: Clinton's Charity Was Already Public

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This item comes from USNews.com editor Kent Allen:

Hillary Clinton, the on-the-political-rise half of the most powerful power couple, was in hot water this week for not being public enough. In fact, though, she was more public than she had to be.

As the Washington Post reported on the front page on Tuesday, Clinton hadn't disclosed on her Senate ethics form that she is an officer of the Clinton Family Foundation, which is funded and run by her, her husband, and daughter Chelsea. Under Senate ethics rules, all senators are supposed to disclose their affiliations with any institution, whether corporate or nonprofit.

In fact, the foundation's activities were already very public. Both the senator's position with the foundation and where the money is distributed are public knowledge, available -- as mandated by law -- to anyone with an internet connection. See the disclosure documents here (pdf).

Follow the jump for how Clinton could have kept the foundation's activities out of the spotlight if she had so desired.

Had they really wanted to keep the nitty-gritty of their charity a secret, the Clintons could have parked their money in a donor-advised fund that would have kept their individual eleemosynary proclivities a dark secret.

Donor-advised funds are housed in much larger umbrella funds that administer the individual funds. The larger fund funnels requests by the donors to transfer their money to specific charities, all vetted as bona fide by the umbrella fund administrators. While the larger charity usually does reveal in the aggregate where its money goes, the individual funds' practices are not a public record.

While it is unusual for such a large charity -- the Clintons have staked $5 million to their private foundation -- to be a donor-advised fund, it's not unheard of, in part because some benefactors just don't want the world to know where their good deeds are going.

In this case, it appears that the Clintons, in going overboard to be public about their charity, were caught in a riptide of regulation.