A contract with the Government of China coincides with the March 2004 incorporation of the Clinton HIV/Aids Initiative Inc as a separate legal entity from the Clinton Foundation.
The Initiative's chairman Ira Magaziner and fellow directors spoke to the Council on Foundations in May/June 2005, just after the Clinton Foundation's board meeting that supposedly set the scene for the Initiative to be merged back into the Clinton Foundation proper.
Magaziner is said to be a business guru. He was in his second annual cycle through the responsibilities of Chairing a 501c3, CHAI #1.
His purported ignorance as to the nature of the entity he Chaired beggars belief and reinforces the suspicions that something very strange was happening with the Clintons and friends.
If everything was kosher, why not talk about it honestly? The buried records and reticence can't lead to any other conclusion than Clinton and Magaziner have something to hide.
By Roger M. Williams
Originally published by the Council on Foundations in the May/June edition of "Foundation News & Commentary"
Two central facts quickly emerge: All of the key players are old Clinton hands, with none coming from the foundation field; and Bill Clinton himself is the organization’s most impressive asset. He’s not only its raison d’être, driving force and soul, but also its entrée to influence, money and being taken very seriously. Indeed, to understand the dynamics of the Clinton foundation is to understand the power of celebrity and popularity in today’s world—not just in the United States, the temple of high celebrity—but everywhere that modern communications reach.
Volunteers as Backbone
Another significant foundation fact is the extent and importance of volunteers. “In 2002, when we started our AIDS initiative,” says Ira Magaziner, who directs it, “we were an all-volunteer organization, and we remained that way for 15 months. We wanted to make sure we were being effective before we started raising money. Volunteers still form our backbone. Take our water and sanitation project [a spin-off of the AIDS initiative]; the volunteer team for that includes a senior partner at Goldman Sachs, a Merrill Lynch executive and an official of Oxfam.”
Until prodded, Magaziner neglects to mention volunteer number one—himself. The tall, soft-spoken businessstrategy consultant and Clinton loyalist spends “essentially all” of his time on foundation affairs, but receives no compensation.
Magaziner, de facto chief of staff Bruce Lindsey and public relations director Jim Kennedy are so divorced from the structured world of philanthropy that none of them knows whether they work for an actual foundation— despite the organization’s official name. (Turns out they don’t—it’s a 501(c)(3) “public charity.”)
The all volunteers until 15 months in gels with the CHAI #1 March 2004 incorporation.
We wanted to be effective before we started raising money doesn't ring true at all. The post implementation reviews from Australia prove it.
Five months later (from July 2002), the fledgling foundation’s AIDS initiative got underway, with Magaziner—a right-wing target during the battle over Clinton’s first-term healthcare plan—at the helm. He has taken its budget from $1 million in 2002 to $15 million this year. There were and still are three emphases: care and treatment (not prevention); working with governments through their ministries of health (the program operates only in countries it’s invited into); pursuing only new ideas, “not,” in Magaziner’s words, “duplicating what exists.”
Financial support comes from Western governments, multilaterals like the World Bank and private foundations and individuals. The private entities are not solicited; they come on their own, and their contribution is accepted only if they’re “entrepreneurial and risk-taking,” explains Magaziner. “We can’t deal with risk-averse foundations. We can’t honestly tell people we’re going to succeed and not going to waste some money.”
One of the initiative’s most enthusiastic supporters has been the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, the creation of a London hedge-fund manager, Chris Cooper-Hohn, who pours an outsized portion of his company’s profits into the foundation. It quickly provided multi-year funding (so far about $3.25 million) for the Clinton AIDS initiative. Most attractive, says Cooper-Hohn’s wife, Jamie, was the program’s “potential to effect sustainable change at such a large scale,” providing an “excellent risk-return ratio.”
Real Value Added
The AIDS initiative has concentrated its efforts on behalf of children on reducing the cost of drugs and testing. Judged by foundation-provided statistics, the project’s success is startling. For example, in midsummer 2002, the cost of a “firstline regimen” of anti-retroviral drugs was $1,600; in spring 2005, it was $140 (for generics). The standard test for kids used to cost a minimum of $20; now it’s $2.50. The foundation has made drugs and tests available in 38 countries, a huge increase, and that number will rise to 60 by year’s end.
“When we came into the AIDS field,” Magaziner recalls, “people said, ‘What are they going to contribute, a lot of speechmaking?’ I guess that was understandable. But once we started getting the drug prices down, and got things moving in China and South Africa, I think we and our contribution were accepted.”
Mindful of the jockeying that sometimes takes place in the AIDS field, the Clinton foundation has made a point of being collaborative—“but not,” Lindsey says, “deferential. Although we don’t try to one-up anybody, we assess our and the president’s capabilities and background, and look for gaps, areas in which we can add value.”
The nature of those Clinton capabilities is obvious—Kennedy terms it “using the bully pulpit”—but their range and the skill with which this instinctive, consummate politician uses them can be surprising. As Magaziner notes, his intervention at any stage of a prospective project can not only seal the deal but also accelerate the pace at which the project gets under way. “He can generate political will where little exists. He made a real breakthrough for us with top officials in China—the first-ever agreement for the ministry of health with a private foundation.”