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  1. Florida Politics

Charity watchdog gives Clinton Foundation high marks

WASHINGTON — A charity watchdog with an ongoing relationship with the Clinton Foundation gave the former first family's nonprofit high marks Thursday, after an evaluation prompted by heightened interest in the organization.

The Clinton Foundation received four out of four stars — the highest rating that Charity Navigator gives after a close look at a charity's finances. The rating is based on annual federal tax documents and an objective algorithm. It was not intended to reflect whether Hillary Clinton kept donors to her family's foundation at appropriate arm's length or provided favored access as secretary of state.

Both organizations disputed that their relationship was ongoing, despite language on the foundation's Clinton Global Initiative website describing a Charity Navigator project commitment that runs through the end of 2016.

Charity Navigator is a leading and respected organization that evaluates and rates charities so donors can make informed decisions about contributions. It was itself a member of the Clinton Global Initiative between 2012 and 2014. The Clinton group said Charity Navigator committed to spend an estimated $2 million of Charity Navigator's own money over four years through 2016 to review more charities and provide more detailed information about them in its reviews.

Charity Navigator's president, Michael Thatcher, told the Associated Press that the Clinton campaign did not influence the rating.

The four-star badge comes at a time when the Clinton Foundation is under intense scrutiny about whether Clinton granted donors access at the State Department. An AP analysis found that of 154 people outside government with private interests who met or spoke to Clinton by phone, 85 had contributed either personally or through their organizations to the foundation. The Clinton campaign said Clinton would have met with the donors, anyway, in her role as secretary of state.

Fundraising improves: Clinton's campaign enters September with $68 million banked after her biggest fundraising month to date.

When other affiliated fundraising committees are included, the Democratic Party and its standard-bearer headed into September with a combined $152 million to spend.

"We are heading into the final two months of the race with the resources we need to organize and mobilize millions of voters across the country," Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook said in a statement Thursday.

Clinton raised $143 million in August, her campaign said, $62 million directly for her campaign and $81 million for joint fundraising committees with the Democratic National Committee, the Hillary Victory Fund and Hillary Action Funds.

Scoring endorsements: The Clinton camp announced endorsements from two retired four-star generals, Bob Sennewald (former commanding general, U.S. Army Forces Command) and David Maddox (former commander in chief of the U.S. Army in Europe).

In a joint statement they said, "Having each served over 34 years and retired as an Army 4-star general, we each have worked closely with America's strongest allies, both in NATO and throughout Asia." They explained, "Our votes have always been private, and neither of us has ever previously lent his name or voice to a presidential candidate." They nevertheless announced, "Having studied what is at stake for this country and the alternatives we have now, we see only one viable leader, and will be voting this November for Secretary Hillary Clinton."

Schedules coming soon:

The State Department agreed Thursday to turn over all the detailed planning schedules from Hillary Clinton's time as secretary of state to the AP by mid-October. It was an abrupt reversal from U.S. government lawyers' warning last week that hundreds of pages would not be released until after the presidential election.

The decision is significant because it will make available before the election all of Clinton's minute-by-minute schedules. Those planning documents offer a detailed look at Clinton's daily routine during her four-year tenure as secretary of state between 2009 and 2013.

Information from Tribune News Service and the Washington Post was used in this report.

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