Posted: 3:17 am EDT
The huge shortfalls in funding for last year’s World Expo exhibit, which drew 6 million people, now loom as a big embarrassment for the State Department and its leader. Officials will hold a conference call on Thursday to try to appease dozens of creditors.
Kerry commissioned the agreement in 2013 with a one-off nonprofit, Friends of U.S. Pavilion, to design, build, operate and pay for the U.S. display in Milan. The group was created with the understanding that the State Department would do the heavy lifting on fundraising. That’s what former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had done for the 2010 Shanghai World Expo, making personal pitches to CEOs to collect more than $60 million in just nine months.
But many people familiar with the fundraising effort note that Clinton’s enormous range of contacts, plus her still-simmering presidential ambitions, had donors lining up quickly in response to calls from her and the cadre of longtime aides she enlisted to help raise the money.
Kerry, by contrast, wasn’t viewed as having a political future, and was scrambling to work out a cease-fire between Ukraine and Russian-backed separatists in Crimea.
There was also a third factor that helped Clinton succeed where Kerry fell short. Even among those who bitterly dispute whether Kerry should have done more, people both inside and outside government who tried to secure Milan funding privately agree that her celebrity and presidential ambitions made Shanghai a comparatively attractive investment.