May 29, 2015, 08:18 am
The Hill by Ben Kamisar
President Clinton appeared at a supermodel’s charity event to receive a lifetime achievement award after she offered to share at least $500,000 of the gala’s proceeds with the Clinton Foundation, according to a Friday report from The New York Times.
The former executive director of the Happy Hearts Fund, founded by Czech model Petra Nemcova, told the paper that Clinton didn’t agree to appear at the June 2014 event until after the charity offered the donation, which made up more than a quarter of the event’s proceeds.
“The Clinton Foundation had rejected the Happy Hearts Fund invitation more than once, until there was a thinly veiled solicitation and then the offer of an honorarium,” Sue Veres Royal told the Times. She was dismissed from the organization soon after based on what the paper describes as “conflicts over the gala and other issues.”
Nemcova held the event last year to commemorate the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, which she personally survived by holding onto a palm tree for hours despite shattering her pelvis. Her boyfriend, Simon Atlee, died in the flood.
Officials from the two organizations pushed back against the assertion that the foundation had asked for the donation in exchange for the appearance, according to the Times. The funds, which were received late last year after Nemcova’s charity received an invoice, will be used on future projects in Haiti.
The disclosure of the arrangement and the Times publication of Nemcova’s invitation letter to Clinton comes amid allegations that Clinton Foundation donors received preferential treatment by 2016 Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton while she served as the top U.S. diplomat. Clinton allies have vigorously denied those allegations, and Clinton is not mentioned in the story outside of her role providing aid to Haiti as secretary of State.
Michael Short, a spokesman with the Republican National Committee, blasted the Happy Hearts arrangement in a statement.
“With revelations like these, the Clinton Foundation is looking more like a high class racket than a charity,” he said.
Nemcova had been a member of the Clinton Global Initiative, paying the $20,000 in annual dues. She used the relationships forged through the foundation to help broker a deal with the Inter-American Development Bank to help build schools in Haiti.
— Updated at 12:37 p.m.