Rich and Famous Shun Clinton's Annual Charity Event

Published: 28th September 2015 08:30 AM  |   Last Updated: 28th September 2015 08:30 AM   |  A+A-

Hillary Clinton has suffered another blow to her campaign for the presidency after dozens of celebrities, donors and foreign dignitaries, including David Cameron, reportedly absented themselves from the showpiece annual publicity event of her family's charitable foundation.

The Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) conference in New York is usually one of the most sought-after tickets on the social calendars of the rich and famous, attracting a host of foreign leaders.

This year's "The Future of Impact" meeting was intended as a celebration of the charity's work, at a time when Chelsea Clinton, Bill and Hillary's daughter, is due to take a lead in managing the $2?billion foundation.

Insiders told the American Politico website that the invitation list included President Obama and the Pope.

But the fact that Mrs Clinton, busy running for the Democratic nomination, was not showing up, and bad publicity surrounding her decision to keep her emails during her time as US secretary of state on a private rather than government server, had put people off.

"They've had a lot of rejections from people - both for membership renewals and speaking roles this year between the campaign, Hillary not being at CGI this year, bad press," one planner for the event said.

President Obama attended last year, along with kings, presidents and prime ministers. This year Leonardo Di Caprio, Elton John, David Cameron and Angela Merkel were reported to be among those who turned it down.

Janet Yellen, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, Thomas Piketty, the renowned economist, and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook also declined.

Bill de Blasio, the New York city mayor, also turned down the invitation. He has refused to endorse Mrs Clinton's presidential campaign, despite having managed her successful run for the Senate in 2000.

Officials for the foundation denied that the rejections were a snub, telling Politico: "We are extremely pleased with the response to our invitations."

It is not unusual for major conferences to see some invitations turned down, but sources inside the CGI said the percentage was higher this year.

None of those who declined cited political reasons. But organisers attributed the fall to rumours that some donors made contributions while seeking or receiving favours from the state department in the time that Hillary Clinton was in office.

A wide roster of these potential conflicts of interest is being reviewed by the Senate judiciary committee.

Major donors have also backed away from the charity, leaving a hole of more than $1?million in its accounts. Several corporations that sponsored the foundation in 2014, including ExxonMobil and HSBC, have backed out of making the same commitment this year.

Controversy continues over Mrs Clinton's emails. Last week the state department contradicted her assertion that she had handed over all work-related emails, uncovering a chain between herself and Gen David Petraeus, the then head of US Central Command, in a set of emails that Mrs Clinton had tried to delete.

She aggressively dismissed the allegations that she used her private email server to escape being held accountable as a "conspiracy theory" yesterday (Sunday).

In the latest poll, from NBC News and the Wall Street Journal, her lead over her principal declared rival for the nomination, the Left-wing Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, was down to seven points nationally.

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