Donald Trump blasts Clinton Foundation for giving favours to friends in Haiti recovery effort after earthquake

Emails show senior aide to the former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, prioritised access to the ravaged country for FOB - ‘friends of Bill’ Clinton and family

Rachael Revesz
New York
Wednesday 12 October 2016 13:07 BST
Hillary Clinton meets with the Haitian president in January 2010
Hillary Clinton meets with the Haitian president in January 2010

Donald Trump has condemned Hillary and Bill Clinton’s charitable foundation for allegedly prioritising friends and donors when it came to accessing disaster-struck Haiti in 2010 and becoming part of the “gold rush” of the recovery mission.

Emails obtained by Freedom of Information requests, reported by ABC News, show that a top aide to former secretary of state and now presidential nominee, Ms Clinton, worked to coordinate disaster relief in the country, asking her colleagues to flag who were "FOB" - friends of Bill Clinton - or "WJC VIPs" - William Jefferson Clinton.

In the days after a massive earthquake struck the island, killing 200,000 people, former state department official Caitlin Klevorick replied to one email offering medical supplies, asking “Is this a FOB!”

"If not, she should go to," she said, directing the donor to a general government website.

The emails have resurfaced as the Clinton Foundation is helping Haiti with more diaster relief after the country was hit by Hurricane Matthew in October, killing at least 1,000 people.

The Trump campaign website has posted a statement from former president of the Haitian senate, Bernard Sansaricq, which said: "Shame on Hillary Clinton and her foundation for even thinking about profiting off of the humanitarian crisis in my country.

"As my people were dying, Hillary was abusing her position as secretary of state and prioritising access to what the state department viewed as a ‘gold rush’ for her wealthy donors in exchange for exorbitant speaking fees and large donations to the Clinton Foundation."

Mr Trump jumped on the news, writing on twitter: "Crooked's state dept gave special attention to 'Friends of Bill' after the Haiti Earthquake. Unbelievable!"

Another 2010 email from a company to the Foundation offering water units prompted Ms Klevorick to write: "Sounds like they want a contract."

The company in question did do work in Haiti, but it was not clear whether it was awarded a contract.

Haitians are urging people not to give money to American Red Cross

Ms Klevorick at the state department sent dozens of emails with Amitabh Desai, the director of foreign policy for the Clinton Foundation, to organise who donated via the foundation to Haiti and who was paid by the government to help the rescue effort.

Ms Klevorick told ABC News that she noted friends of Mr Clinton to work out if they had a history in Haiti or with disaster relief.

"Everyone’s priority was to get the necessary resources to the right places as soon as possible to save lives," she said.

As friends were identified, their requests and donations were pushed further up the chain of command, including Garry Mauro, former Texas state chairman for Mr Clinton’s presidential camapaigns and a donor of between $25,000 and $50,000 to the Clinton Foundation. Mr Mauro offered "major assets" to Haiti from a company called DRC Emergency Services.

The company says on its website it mobilised a team in Port-au-Prince within 24 hours of the earthquake. Mr Mauro was also noted as a friend of "hrc" - Hillary Rodham Clinton.

A second example was Mr Clinton’s university friend, Rolando Gonzalez-Bunster, a board member of the foundation and who has power plants business interests in the Dominican Republic, next to Haiti, and in other islands.

He reportedly requested detailed satellite imagery of the Haitian power grid post-earthquake to help "do a reconnaissance of the status of the transmission and distribution lines and power plants".

Mr Bunster told ABC that the work was a donation and the company received an award for its efforts.

State department spokesman John Kirby said the emails showed how the government agency worked to coordinate resources, "solve problems" and "achieve the department and the UN’s shared goal of helping Haiti".

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