by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Barack Obama’s presidential foundation is barely two years old, but he is taking it down the same controversial — and by some accounts illegal — post-presidency path of his predecessor Bill Clinton, according to documents reviewed by The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group.
Federal law requires tax-exempt entities like the Barack Obama Foundation and the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation to stick closely to their IRS-approved missions. For former chief executives, that mission has been building and operating libraries to house their official papers for posterity.
In a relatively unnoticed series of steps during the first six-years of its existence, the Clintons converted their foundation from focusing solely on the presidential library in Little Rock, Ark., to a $2 billion globe-trotting political influence-peddling machine.
The transformation moved the Clinton non-profit from its declared exempt purpose in 1998 “to design, construct and initially endow a presidential archival deposit,” to the vastly expanded 2004 description of “dual missions of constructing and endowing the Clinton Presidential Center and park in Little Rock, Arkansas, and continuing the work of his presidency to strengthen the capacity of people in the United States and throughout the world to meet the challenges of global interdependence.”
Compare that statement to the mission description for Obama’s foundation in its exemption application, which gets to the same wide-open mission but without the multiple intermediate steps taken by the Clintons.