House Republicans ask IRS to scrutinize Clinton Foundation

House Republicans ask IRS to scrutinize Clinton Foundation

Lucy Nicholson

(Reuters) - Republican lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives asked the Internal Revenue Service to review whether Hillary Clinton's family's main charity has complied with the terms of its tax-exempt status in a letter they sent on Tuesday.

The letter follows a spate of unflattering news reports about international fundraising by the Clinton Foundation, which has come under renewed scrutiny after Hillary Clinton, a Democrat, announced her run for the U.S. presidency in April.

Last month, the foundation said it would review and refile tax returns for at least three of the four years that Clinton was secretary of state after Reuters discovered it had failed to separately disclose the millions of dollars in government funding it got in those years.

Besides citing the erroneous tax returns, the lawmakers' letter refers to news reports that Canadian businessman Frank Giustra may have used his association with the foundation, where he serves on the board alongside former U.S. President Bill Clinton, to help his business ventures.

Giustra, Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton have dismissed those reports as unfounded smears by the Clintons' political opponents. Bill Clinton has also said errors in the tax form were accidental and commonplace.

The letter, signed by Marsha Blackburn and 51 other House Republicans, says the IRS should determine whether the foundation is "acting within the scope of its charitable mission."

Blackburn asked the IRS to respond within 30 days. It was not immediately clear whether the IRS is likely to agree to conduct a review. An IRS spokesman said the agency does not comment on individual tax cases.

A spokesman for the Clinton Foundation, best known for helping to reduce the cost of drugs for people in poor countries with HIV, did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.

Hillary Clinton, who has generally avoided questions from the media in the opening weeks of her campaign, discussed the foundation during a campaign event in Iowa on Tuesday.

"I am so proud of the foundation," she told reporters after speaking with voters at a bike shop in Cedar Falls. "It attracted donations from people and organizations around the world and I think that goes to show that people are very supportive of the life-saving and life-changing work it has done."

(Additional reporting by Amanda Becker in Cedar Falls, Iowa, and Susan Cornwell in Washington; Editing by Richard Chang)