Wyclef Responds to Attacks on Yele Haiti Charity
Since the devastating earthquake shook Haiti last Tuesday (Jan. 12), former Fugees frontman and Haiti native Wyclef Jean has been passionate and outspoken in the frantic effort to raise money for the country. Within three days of the quake, Wyclef's Yele Haiti organization had raised over $1 million for the cause, thanks to appearances on several TV and Internet outlets urging the public to donate. But in the wake of such successful fundraising, reports began to surface on Friday (Jan. 15), questioning the legitimacy of Wyclef's foundation.
A report was initially released by thesmokinggun.com, questioning the Yele Haitian Foundation's financial practices. The site claimed that according to Yele's paperwork filed with the Internal Revenue Service, Wyclef and his partner have made profits of over $400,000 in production services, appearance fees and rent in the 12-year-span of the foundation. The Washington Post did a follow-up story on the scandal and reported that in 2006, Yele Haiti made $1 million in revenues but spent one third of the profit on payments to related companies. The Post listed rent payments and even a Wyclef benefit concert in Monaco as examples of expenditure.
Clef, who returned from Haiti on Saturday immediately got wind of the rumors and took to YouTube to confront his naysayers. "Coming back here, after digging kids up, and putting them, finding cemeteries for them... this what I come back to? An attack on my integrity, and my foundation," he said. "You can donate to any charity you want to , I am not here to force you to donate to Yele Haiti, but the proof, as we say in America, is in the pudding." In another statement, Clef went on to address the fact that the attacks on his organization could not be executed at a more inappropriate time. "The fact that these attacks come as we are mobilized to meet the greatest human tragedy in the history of Haiti only serves to perplex me even further," he said.
However in a press conference yesterday while giving a teary account of what he has witnessed firsthand Wyclef admitted that his organization has made some "mistakes" "Have we made mistakes before? Yes," he said in response to recent accusations. "Did I ever use Yele money for personal benefits? Absolutely not. Yele's books are open and transparent, and we have been a clean bill of heath by an external auditor every year since we started," he said.
In spite of the attacks, The Yele Haiti foundation continues its push to raise money for Haiti. Wyclef will join George Clooney and Anderson Cooper to host a live telethon for Haiti this Friday (Jan. 22) at 8PM ET. Hosts will be stationed in New York, Los Angeles and Haiti and the program will be broadcast on CBS, NBC, FOX, CNN, BET, HBO, MTV, VH1 and several other channels.