After Damning Report, Clinton Foundation Pledges to Fix Haiti Trailers

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The Nation Institute's Investigative Fund

After Damning Report, Clinton Foundation Pledges to Fix Haiti Trailers

Yesterday, the Clinton Foundation pledged to respond to the findings of an Investigative Fund/Nation magazine investigation that exposed a range of problems with trailers the foundation provided after the Haiti earthquake to serve as both classrooms and hurricane shelters. My reporting partner, Isabel Doucet, and I found that the trailers, one of the first projects approved by the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission, were plagued by mold, extreme heat and formaldehyde emissions. In addition, a leading structural engineer found them not to be hurricane-proof.

The investigation, posted by The Nation on July 11, was quickly picked up by the Associated Press, BBC World Service and Democracy Now! A Clinton Foundation COO Laura Graham was quoted in a July 12 AP article saying that the foundation run by the former US president, who serves as UN Special Envoy for Haiti and co-chairs the Recovery Commission, plans to send experts to Haiti to explore the article's allegations and fix any “structural deficiencies” in the trailers.

On July 14, Dr. Paul Farmer, who serves as Clinton’s Deputy special envoy for Haiti, told Democracy Now! that he would personally look into the issues raised in the investigation, which received additional support from the Canadian Centre for Investigative Reporting.

Laboratory tests conducted as part of the investigation found that one of the trailers has an unsafe level of formaldehyde. The temperature inside the trailers, which were used as classrooms by more than a thousand Haitian school children this year, regularly exceeds 100 degrees, a byproduct of the Clinton Foundation’s failure to provide electricity generators, as it had originally told the Recovery Commission it would. And despite an epidemic of cholera, a disease that is easily preventable with proper sanitation, the foundation has likewise failed to follow through on building the restrooms it told the commission would be part of the construction project.

June marked the beginning of Haiti's hurricane season, and meteorologists project that Haiti could face up to eighteen tropical storms this year. The town that received the faulty trailers, Léogâne, which was flooded by Hurricane Tomas last year, is relying on them as Plan A in the municipality's emergency response.

Graham had previously told us that experts were involved in the decision to award the Clinton Foundation trailer contract to Clayton Homes, a manufacturer currently being sued by Hurricane Katrina survivors who were exposed to unsafe levels of formaldehyde in the mobile homes Clayton sold to FEMA. However, she declined to disclose the names of these experts or reveal any details about the bidding process.

We hope they'll be more transparent about the experts they're sending to examine the trailers now.

Isabel Macdonald

Isabel Macdonald is a Montreal-based freelance journalist and the former communications director of the media watch group FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting). She can be reached at isabelmacdonald1 at gmail.com Follow her on Twitter: www.twitter.com/isabelmacdo

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