FACT CHECK: Did Hillary Clinton take money from countries that treat women, gays poorly?

Posted at 4:14 PM, Jul 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-12 22:36:43-04

Donald Trump continues to attack Hillary Clinton on everything from campaign spending to ISIS.

At Trump's Phoenix rally last month, he accused Clinton of taking money from countries that have a poor record with women and gay people.

"She's been given tens of millions of dollars by countries that treat women horribly," Trump said. "And countries that kill gays, they kill gays."

"She's been giving tens of millions of dollars by countries that treat women horribly...and countries that kill gays."

We put this claim through a truth-check. 

Trump, whose campaign did not return a request for comment, seems to be referencing donations given to the Clinton Foundation. Trump has referenced her foundation ties in the past, saying she needs to "return the $25 million" that Saudi Arabia gave the foundation.

The William J. Clinton Foundation was incorporated in 1997. The foundation agreed to disclose its donors when Clinton became secretary of state in 2009.

We wondered whether Clinton' s donor list held up to Trump’s claim. But first, it is important to note that political candidates cannot take money from foreign entities. 

"The prohibition in the Federal Election Campaign Act is against candidates or political committees soliciting, accepting or receiving contributions from foreign nationals, not only governments," said Michael Malbin, a political science professor at the University at Albany.

Hillary Clinton spokesman Josh Schwerin also noted that the former first lady played no role in the foundation while she was secretary of state.

"Further, she did not blink before standing up to countries that oppressed their people and denied them of their rights, from LGBT rights to women's rights," Schwerin said.

Nonetheless. looking at the Clinton Foundation’s donor list, Saudi Arabia gave between $10 million and $25 million. But the foundation reported the Saudi money in December 2008, and the amount hasn’t changed since. Clinton Foundation spokesman Brian Cookstra pointed out that Saudi Arabia did not give to the foundation while Secretary Clinton was at the State Department.

The foundation has also taken between $1 million and $5 million each from United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Oman. As The Wall Street Journal reported, several of these donations came in 2014, after Clinton's tenure at the State Department.

Women’s rights

Human Rights Watch tracks how women are treated in each of these countries.

In Saudi Arabia, a woman needs "male guardian" approval on everything from obtaining a passport to seeking higher education. They also have no divorce rights.

The same male approval is needed for marriage in United Arab Emirates, plus laws there also allow a husband to assault his wife and children.

In Qatar, marital rape is permitted. Women need a male guardian to approve a marriage contract, and one law specifies that a wife must obey her husband.

And in Oman, Human Rights Watch notes that while there is a nondiscrimination law, women still face discrimination when it comes to domestic issues such as child custody and divorce.

Gay rights

According to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, all sex outside of marriage, including same-sex intercourse, in Saudi Arabia is punishable by death.

For a married man, the penalty is death by stoning. An unmarried man faces 100 blows of a whip.

In Qatar, any sexual act outside of marriage is punishable by death.

The United Arab Emirates also bans sex outside of marriage, and the death penalty could apply to consensual "same-sex relations."

As for Oman, the country punishes same-sex acts by up to three years in prison.

Not Clinton directly

Experts we spoke with questioned whether the donations to the foundation are directly attributable to Hillary Clinton.

Indiana University public affairs professor emeritus Leslie Lenkowsky said Trump’s claim is hyperbolic.

"These were not donations to Secretary Clinton as such, but to an organization with which she was closely involved (when not in office or seeking it), including serving as a director," Lenkowsky said.

Our ruling 

Trump said that Hillary Clinton has "been given tens of millions of dollars by countries that treat women horribly...and countries that kill gays."

Trump's comment oversimplifies donations to the Clinton Foundation to make a quick attack against his Democratic rival. He makes it sound as if Clinton personally received money from foreign governments with poor records on human rights. But political candidates cannot accept donations from foreign governments.

We rate Trump’s claim Half True.


For the complete fact-check, visit our news partner, PolitiFact Arizona