POLITICS

Progressive Group Wants Hillary Clinton To Give Back Foundation Funding Over Keystone

03/06/2015 05:35 pm ET | Updated Mar 06, 2015
Leah Puttkammer via Getty Images

A progressive group is targeting Hillary Clinton over what it calls a "conflict of interest" when it comes to the Keystone XL pipeline.

Clinton, a likely 2016 Democratic presidential contender, is the subject of a new petition from CREDO Action, a liberal group that organizes online campaigns. CREDO is pressuring Clinton to give back money that the Clinton Foundation has accepted from foreign governments for its philanthropic work.

Both the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post have recently reported on the foundation's acceptance of millions of dollars from seven different foreign countries, including nations like the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Oman.

Credo is most upset about a donation from Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development, a government office that has been promoting the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. The Canadian company TransCanada is seeking to build the pipeline from Alberta's oil sands to carry oil to refineries in Texas. The office gave between between $250,000 and $500,000 to the foundation, according to the Wall Street Journal's review of the foundation's disclosures.

"Taking hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Canadian agency responsible for promoting Keystone XL is a stunning conflict of interest," Elijah Zarlin, senior campaign manager at CREDO, said in a statement. "If Secretary Clinton wants the trust of the American people she needs to immediately return all contributions the Clinton Foundation has received from Canada and other foreign governments."

A spokesman for the Clinton Foundation told the Wall Street Journal that the donation originated from a different office within the agency -- not the one tasked with promoting the pipeline.

The consideration of whether to grant the pipeline a permit began during Clinton's time as secretary of state. Because it crosses an international border, the Department of State has been the lead agency in the permit process. In 2010, Clinton remarked that the department was "inclined to" sign off on the pipeline, which prompted outrage from environmental groups that accused her of being biased in favor of the project. But the agency's approval process has continued well beyond Clinton's time in office, to the great annoyance of the pipeline's congressional supporters.

Hillary Clinton has generally declined to comment on whether the Keystone XL pipeline should be constructed, avoiding the topic whenever possible.

A Clinton Foundation spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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