January - 2009

Early 2009 – Clinton Foundation paid Blumenthal $10K per month while he advised on Libya

The Blumenthals attend a Christmas party at the White House during the early years of Bill Clinton’s presidency. (Credit: public domain)

“Sidney Blumenthal, a longtime confidant of Bill and Hillary Clinton, earned about $10,000 a month as a full-time employee of the Clinton Foundation while he was providing unsolicited intelligence on Libya to then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, according to multiple sources familiar with the arrangement.

“Blumenthal was added to the payroll of the Clintons’ global philanthropy in 2009 — not long after advising Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign — at the behest of former president Bill Clinton, for whom he had worked in the White House, say the sources.

 While Blumenthal’s foundation job focused on highlighting the legacy of Clinton’s presidency, some officials at the charity questioned his value and grumbled that his hiring was a favor from the Clintons, according to people familiar with the foundation. They say that, during a 2013 reform push, Blumenthal was moved to a consulting contract that came with a similar pay rate but without benefits — an arrangement that endured until March.

A Clinton loyalist who first earned the family’s trust as an aggressive combatant in the political battles of the 1990s, Blumenthal continues to work as a paid consultant to two groups supporting Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign — American Bridge and Media Matters — both of which are run by David Brock, a close ally of both Clinton and Blumenthal.”  (Read more: Politico, 5/28/2015)

January 21, 2009 – February 1, 2013: Clinton Foundation donors got weapons deals from Hillary Clinton’s State Department

Huma Abedin and Clinton on their way to meet with Abu Dhabi’s crown prince, Sheik Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, in June 2011. (Credit: The Associated Press)

“Even by the standards of arms deals between the United States and Saudi Arabia, this one was enormous. A consortium of American defense contractors led by Boeing would deliver $29 billion worth of advanced fighter jets to the United States’ oil-rich ally in the Middle East.

Israeli officials were agitated, reportedly complaining to the Obama administration that this substantial enhancement to Saudi air power risked disrupting the region’s fragile balance of power. The deal appeared to collide with the State Department’s documented concerns about the repressive policies of the Saudi royal family.

But now, in late 2011, Hillary Clinton’s State Department was formally clearing the sale, asserting that it was in the national interest. At press conferences in Washington to announce the department’s approval, an assistant secretary of state, Andrew Shapiro, declared that the deal had been “a top priority” for Clinton personally. Shapiro, a longtime aide to Clinton since her Senate days, added that the “U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army have excellent relationships in Saudi Arabia.”

These were not the only relationships bridging leaders of the two nations. In the years before Hillary Clinton became secretary of state, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia contributed at least $10 million to the Clinton Foundation, the philanthropic enterprise she has overseen with her husband, former president Bill Clinton. Just two months before the deal was finalized, Boeing — the defense contractor that manufactures one of the fighter jets the Saudis were especially keen to acquire, the F-15 — contributed $900,000 to the Clinton Foundation, according to a company press release.

The Saudi deal was one of dozens of arms sales approved by Hillary Clinton’s State Department that placed weapons in the hands of governments that had also donated money to the Clinton family philanthropic empire, an International Business Times investigation has found.” (Read more: The International Business Times, 5/26/2015)

January 21, 2009 – February 1, 2013: 181 Clinton Foundation donors who lobbied Hillary’s State Department

(Credit: Washington Examiner)

“The size and scope of the symbiotic relationship between the Clintons and their donors is striking. At least 181 companies, individuals, and foreign governments that have given to the Clinton Foundation also lobbied the State Department when Hillary Clinton ran the place, according to a Vox analysis of foundation records and federal lobbying disclosures.

The following chart shows entities that donated to the foundation and lobbied the State Department during Hillary Clinton’s tenure. The totals include funding for the foundation from both corporate and charitable arms of listed companies that lobbied State, even though the charities themselves don’t necessarily lobby. One exception: The Gates Foundation, co-chaired by Microsoft co-founder and board member Bill Gates, is not Microsoft’s charitable arm (that’s another group) and does not register to lobby. The chart does not account for contributions made by executives, and it may omit some companies who made contributions or lobbied through subsidiaries.

(Chart can be seen at source link.)

* The Clinton Foundation reports contributions in ranges.

That’s not illegal, but it is scandalous.

There’s a household name at the nexus of the foundation and the State Department for every letter of the alphabet but “X” (often more than one): Anheuser-Busch, Boeing, Chevron, (John) Deere, Eli Lilly, FedEx, Goldman Sachs, HBO, Intel, JP Morgan, Lockheed Martin, Monsanto, NBC Universal, Oracle, Procter & Gamble, Qualcomm, Rotary International, Siemens, Target, Unilever, Verizon, Walmart, Yahoo, and Ze-gen.

The set includes oil, defense, drug, tech, and news companies, as well as labor unions and foreign interests. It includes organizations as innocuous as the Girl Scouts and those as in need of brand-burnishing as Nike, which was once forced to vow that it would end the use of child labor in foreign sweatshops. This list of donors to the Clinton foundation who lobbied State matters because it gives a sense of just how common it was for influence-seekers to give to the Clinton Foundation, and exactly which ones did.” (Read more: Vox, 4/28/2015)

Early 2009 – Hillary’s State Department OK’d Bill’s big-money speeches

Jim Thessin (Credit: public domain)

[…] “In hundreds of documents released to POLITICO under the Freedom of Information Act, not a single case appears where the State Department explicitly rejected a Bill Clinton speech. Instead, the records show State Department lawyers acted on sparse information about business proposals and speech requests and were under the gun to approve the proposals promptly. The ethics agreement did not require that Clinton provide the estimated income from his private arrangements, making it difficult for ethics officials to tell whether his services were properly valued.

The proposed China speech and one consulting deal with a major player in Middle East policy are the only examples in the released documents where serious concerns were registered. The records include requests to speak to investment groups, colleges and foreign entities.

The records also highlight a blind spot in the ethics deal the Clintons and the Obama transition team hammered out in 2008 with the involvement of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee: While the pact subjected Bill Clinton’s moneymaking activities to official review, it imposed no vetting on donations to the Clinton Foundation by individuals or private companies in the U.S. or abroad.

Concerns about individuals seeking influence by dropping money in both buckets arose soon after the first few Bill Clinton speech proposals landed at Foggy Bottom. In a 2009 memo greenlighting those talks, a State Department ethics official specifically asked about possible links between President Clinton’s speaking engagements and donations to the Clinton Foundation. However, the released documents show no evidence that the question was addressed.

“In future requests, I would suggest including a statement listing whether or not any of the proposed sponsors of a speaking event have made a donation to the Clinton Foundation and, if so, the amount and date,” wrote Jim Thessin, then the State Department’s top ethics approver and No. 2 lawyer.” (Read more: Politico, 2/25/2015)

Early 2009 – Obama bans Sidney Blumenthal from working at State Department

November 2005 – Sidney Blumenthal (Credit: MSNBC)

The New York Times reports, “…the White House recently scuttled Mrs. Clinton’s effort to bring Sidney Blumenthal, a journalist and confidant of both her and former President Bill Clinton, into the State Department.”  Read more: (New York Times, July 15, 2009)

Law professor Jonathan Turley reports, “The White House has reportedly blocked Hillary Clinton’s effort to bring controversial columnist Sidney Blumenthal into the State Department to advise her. Blumenthal has been long seen as a polarizing and, according to some, a vicious partisan — including allegations that he spread malicious rumors about Obama during the campaign.” (Read more: Jonathan Turley, July 17, 2009)

 

January 20, 2009 – February 1, 2013: Bill Clinton Cashed In When Hillary Became Secretary of State

Bill and Hillary Clinton (Credit: Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images)

“After his wife became Secretary of State, former President Bill Clinton began to collect speaking fees that often doubled or tripled what he had been charging earlier in his post White House years, bringing in millions of dollars from groups that included several with interests pending before the State Department, an ABC News review of financial disclosure records shows.

Where he once had drawn $150,000 for a typical address in the years following his presidency, Clinton saw a succession of staggering paydays for speeches in 2010 and 2011, including $500,000 paid by a Russian investment bank and $750,000 to address a telecom conference in China.

“It’s unusual to see a former president’s speaking fee go up over time,” said Richard Painter, who served as chief ethics lawyer in the White House Counsel’s office under President George W. Bush. “I must say I’m surprised that he raised his fees. There’s no prohibition on his raising it. But it does create some appearance problems if he raises his fee after she becomes Secretary of State.”

Public speaking became a natural and lucrative source of income for Clinton when he returned to private life in 2001. Records from disclosure forms filed by Hillary Clinton during her tenures in the U.S. Senate and then in the Obama Administration indicate he took in more than $105 million in speech fees during that 14 year period.” (Read more: ABC News, April 23, 2015)

January 13, 2009 – Clinton assures transparency during her Senate confirmation hearing for Secretary of State

US Secretary of State nominee and incumbent  Senator Hillary Clinton testifies during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on January 13, 2009. (Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

[…] “So the work of the foundation, the confidence that it has created with donors who know that it has an extremely low percentage that goes to any overhead, it has a very transparent way that it uses the money, were very persuasive to the transition team, that we had to work out something to keep the foundation in business while I did what I needed to do to be as transparent as possible.

So the kinds of concerns that were put forth were very carefully considered. And,  you know, I do believe that the agreement provides the kind of transparency — under the Memorandum of Understanding, foreign government pledges will be submitted to the State Department for review. I don’t know who will be giving money. That will not influence; it will not be in the atmosphere. When the disclosure occurs, obviously it will be after the fact, so it will be hard to make an argument that it influenced anybody because we didn’t know about it. So I think that in the way the president-elect’s transition team saw it, the agreement that has been worked out is actually in the best interests of avoiding the appearance of conflict.” (Video and Transcript: CSpan, 1/13/2009)

2009 – Doug Band’s new corporate consulting firm, Teneo, is closely tied to the Clinton Foundation

Douglas Band (Credit: McMullan /Cosipa News)

[…]”As the foundation grew, so did the outside business ventures pursued by Mr. Clinton and several of his aides.

None have drawn more scrutiny in Clinton circles than Teneo, a firm co-founded in 2009 by Mr. Band, described by some as a kind of surrogate son to Mr. Clinton. Aspiring to merge corporate consulting, public relations and merchant banking in a single business, Mr. Band poached executives from Wall Street, recruited other Clinton aides to join as employees or advisers and set up shop in a Midtown office formerly belonging to one of the country’s top hedge funds.

By 2011, the firm had added a third partner, Declan Kelly, a former State Department envoy for Mrs. Clinton. And Mr. Clinton had signed up as a paid adviser to the firm.

Teneo worked on retainer, charging monthly fees as high as $250,000, according to current and former clients. The firm recruited clients who were also Clinton Foundation donors, while Mr. Band and Mr. Kelly encouraged others to become new foundation donors. Its marketing materials highlighted Mr. Band’s relationship with Mr. Clinton and the Clinton Global Initiative, where Mr. Band sat on the board of directors through 2011 and remains an adviser. Some Clinton aides and foundation employees began to wonder where the foundation ended and Teneo began.

Those worries intensified after the collapse of MF Global, the international brokerage firm led by Jon S. Corzine, a former governor of New Jersey, in the fall of 2011. The firm had been among Teneo’s earliest clients, and its collapse over bad European investments — while paying $125,000 a month for the firm’s public relations and financial advice — drew Teneo and the Clintons unwanted publicity.

Mr. Clinton ended his advisory role with Teneo in March 2012, after an article appeared in The New York Post suggesting that Mrs. Clinton was angry over the MF Global controversy. A spokesman for Mr. Clinton denied the report. But in a statement released afterward, Mr. Clinton announced that he would no longer be paid by Teneo.

[…]Mr. Band left his paid position with the foundation in late 2010, but has remained involved with C.G.I., as have a number of Teneo clients, like Coca-Cola, Dow Chemical and UBS Americas. Standard Chartered, a British financial services company that paid a $340 million fine to New York regulators last year to settle charges that it had laundered money from Iran, is a Teneo client and a sponsor of the 2012 global initiative.” (Read more: New York Times, 8/13/2013)