The list of people who turned down invitations to tonight's ritzy Clinton Foundation gala in New York City is a who's who of who'd rather be somewhere else. Politico reports the following recognizable names were among the dozens of celebrities, dignitaries, and donors who RSVP'd no for the annual Clinton Global Initiative event: Pope Francis, Leonardo DiCaprio, Bill de Blasio, Janet Yellen, Arianna Huffington, Thomas Piketty, Mark Zuckerberg, Elton John, Barack Obama, David Cameron, and Angela Merkel. In addition, at least five major companies that sponsored the 2014 CGI event declined to do so this year. Today's gathering is meant to celebrate the Foundation's past successes while welcoming Chelsea Clinton to her new role as its head.
And that might be part of the problem. As Politico reports, sitting on a panel with Chelsea doesn't carry the same weight as sitting on a panel with either of her parents, who are scaling back their involvement with the Foundation. It's also possible many would-be attendees are weary of the ongoing scandals surrounding the Foundation, which has been scrutinized following reports of donors getting or receiving favors from Hillary Clinton's State Department. “They've had a lot of rejections from people...between the campaign, Hillary not being at CGI this year, bad press,” one inside source tells Politico. But Foundation officials say they aren't worried. After all, they still have Mario Batali, Jessica Biel, and Edward Norton. (Read more Clinton Foundation stories.)