newyorktimes-logo-250pxl“Questions surrounding foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation are beginning to fester beyond the usual conservative critics who hope to derail the presidential hopes of Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Prof. Jeffrey D. Sachs, a leading economist, and philanthropist said on Friday in an interview on MSNBC that the fuzzy lines between the foundation’s donations and the political influence wielded by the Clintons is problematic.

“There is a lot here that is real,” said Professor Sachs, a special adviser to the United Nations secretary general and director of Columbia University’s Earth Institute. “Whether it’s quid pro quos or not, who knows? But the amount of schmoozing involved and crossing lines and one person putting money in a foundation, and then Clinton getting unbelievable amounts for his speeches, and then contracts going one way or another, it’s not good.”

Professor Sachs suggested that the Clinton money machine was a distraction that interfered with serious policy and the relief work it was trying to accomplish in places like Haiti. He said that members of the international philanthropy community have been concerned about the Clinton Foundation’s practices for years.

“There were too many friends around, too many ad hoc plane flights in to do this deal or that deal, and there was not the systemic approach that one needs after a devastation,” he said. “That’s the sad part of it.”

Former President Bill Clinton defended his foundation this week during a trip to Africa. He said it has never done anything “knowingly inappropriate” and pointed to all the good work it does around the world.

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