Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have reportedly pledged $100 million to the World Bank’s Women Entrepreneurs Fund built by first daughter and White House aide Ivanka Trump — and the fund is already raising serious ethical and legal questions.
The Wall Street Journal reported the initiative will provide financial and technical assistance to women in Middle East who want to start their own business. Trump first pitched the idea to World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim, who praised her ”leadership,” and discussed it with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The move is raising ethical questions about how a person working for the White House can shape foreign policy while seeking donations from foreign countries.
The World Bank has said they were “in discussions” with the first daughter and nothing has been confirmed yet. However, Axios reported the “Canadians, Germans and a few Middle Eastern countries have already made quiet commitments, as have several corporations.”
If Ivanka has already made these commitments, she may be in legal trouble.
“If you are raising funds for a nonprofit in the U.S., you have to file with the IRS. Not doing so is a violation of tax law. And you also have to file reports on a yearly basis,” said Tom Watson, the president and founder of CauseWired, a non-profit advising consulting firm. “We don’t know if any of that has been done.”
NEW: Ivanka accepted $100 million from Saudis to "help women." Nearly 10x what Clinton Fdn accepted and they had *actual* programs to fund.— Kaivan Shroff (@KaivanShroff) May 21, 2017
We make a sweet discounted arms deal with Saudi and they turn around and donate 100 million to Ivanka's 'women's fund'. Nothing to see here🙄— Jennifer (@shutterbutter68) May 21, 2017
By the way, the $100MM Saudi Arabia & UAE pledged to Ivanka's "women's entrepreneurs" fund: the fund doesn't even exist. #PayForPlay— Pé Resists (@4everNeverTrump) May 21, 2017
Saudis pledge $100M to Ivanka's Women Entrepreneurs Fund— Maggie Jordan: (@MaggieJordanACN) May 22, 2017
Chinese workers making entrepreneur Ivanka's clothing work 60hr wks, earn $62/week
Ivanka: I won't solicit funds for Women Entrepreneurs Fund— Jeff Yang (@originalspin) May 21, 2017
Also Ivanka: I just raised $100M from SA & UAE for Women Entrepreneurs Fund pic.twitter.com/1PXLgJ6YFo
President Donald Trump was extremely critical of Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, who received $10 million and $25 million from Saudi Arabia for the Clinton Foundation, and even went so far as to demand repeatedly that she return all of the money.
However, he has not denounced his own daughter over the ethical and legal concerns of the Women Entrepreneurs Fund. It is not illegal for presidents or their families to engage in philanthropy during their stint in the White House but these efforts are required to undergo a lengthy approval process that ensures there is no special influence or access given in exchange for the aid.
Trump’s meeting was also met with cynicism from Saudi Arabian activists. Aziza al-Yousef, a 58-year-old activist who has campaigned to end the country’s male guardianship rules, said, “If Ivanka is interested in women empowerment and human rights, she should see activists, and not just officials.”