December - 2011

Late 2011 – As Colombian Oil Money Flowed To Clintons, State Department Took No Action To Prevent Labor Violations

Hillary Clinton with Frank Giustra (far left), Louise Arbour and U.S. Ambassador Thomas Pickering (right). (Credit: Flickr)

“For union organizers in Colombia, the dangers of their trade were intensifying. When workers at the country’s largest independent oil company staged a strike in 2011, the Colombian military rounded them up at gunpoint and threatened violence if they failed to disband, according to human rights organizations. Similar intimidation tactics against the workers, say labor leaders, amounted to an everyday feature of life.

For the United States, these were precisely the sorts of discomfiting accounts that were supposed to be prevented in Colombia under a labor agreement that accompanied a recently signed free trade pact liberalizing the exchange of goods between the countries. From Washington to Bogota, leaders had promoted the pact as a win for all — a deal that would at once boost trade while strengthening the rights of embattled Colombian labor organizers. That formulation had previously drawn skepticism from many prominent Democrats, among them Hillary Clinton.

Yet as union leaders and human rights activists conveyed these harrowing reports of violence to then-Secretary of State Clinton in late 2011, urging her to pressure the Colombian government to protect labor organizers, she responded first with silence, these organizers say. The State Department publicly praised Colombia’s progress on human rights, thereby permitting hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. aid to flow to the same Colombian military that labor activists say helped intimidate workers.

At the same time that Clinton’s State Department was lauding Colombia’s human rights record, her family was forging a financial relationship with Pacific Rubiales, the sprawling Canadian petroleum company at the center of Colombia’s labor strife. The Clintons were also developing commercial ties with the oil giant’s founder, Canadian financier Frank Giustra, who now occupies a seat on the board of the Clinton Foundation, the family’s global philanthropic empire.

The details of these financial dealings remain murky, but this much is clear: After millions of dollars were pledged by the oil company to the Clinton Foundation — supplemented by millions more from Giustra himself — Secretary Clinton abruptly changed her position on the controversial U.S.-Colombia trade pact. Having opposed the deal as a bad one for labor rights back when she was a presidential candidate in 2008, she now promoted it, calling it “strongly in the interests of both Colombia and the United States.” The change of heart by Clinton and other Democratic leaders enabled congressional passage of a Colombia trade deal that experts say delivered big benefits to foreign investors like Giustra.”
(Read more: International Business Times, 4/08/15)

December 03, 2011 – Opinion: Grifters-in-Chief

Kimberly Strassel (Credit: Wall Street Journal)

By Kimberley Strassel

[…]”The memo came near the end of a 2011 review by law firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett into Clinton Foundation practices. Chelsea Clinton had grown concerned about the audacious mixing of public and private, and the review was designed to ensure that the foundation didn’t lose its charitable tax status. Mr. Band, Teneo boss and epicenter of what he calls “ Bill Clinton, Inc.,” clearly felt under assault and was eager to brag up the ways in which his business had concurrently benefited the foundation, Clinton political causes and the Clinton bank account. The memoed result is a remarkably candid look at the sleazy inner workings of the Clinton grifters-in-chief.

The cross-pollination is flagrant, and Mr. Band gives example after example of how it works. He and his partner Declan Kelly (a Hillary Clinton fundraiser whom Mrs. Clinton rewarded by making him the State Department’s special envoy to Northern Ireland) buttered up their clients with special visits to Bill’s home and tête-à-tête golf rounds with the former president. They then “cultivated” these marks ( Coca-Cola, Dow Chemical, UBS) for foundation dollars, and then again for high-dollar Bill Clinton speeches and other business payouts.

Teneo’s incestuous behavior also included Mrs. Clinton’s State Department. The Band memo boasts that Mr. Kelly (while he was Mrs. Clinton’s State envoy) introduced the then-head of UBS Wealth Management, Bob McCann, to Bill Clinton at an American Ireland Fund event in 2009. “Mr. Kelly subsequently asked Mr. Mccann [sic] to support the Foundation, which he did . . . Mr. Kelly also encouraged Mr. Mccann [sic] to invite President Clinton to give several paid speeches, which he has done,” reads Mr. Band’s memo. UBS ultimately paid Bill $2 million.

American Ireland Fund meanwhile became a Teneo client, and made Mr. Kelly (of former State envoy fame) a trustee, where he “ensured that the AIF is a significant donor to the Foundation.” AIF then bestowed upon Mrs. Clinton a major award on her final trip to Northern Ireland in 2012, in an event partly sponsored by . . . Teneo.

Not that this is all one way. Mr. Band let slip just how useful all these arrangements were for Teneo, too, when he backhandedly apologized in the memo for hosting 15 client meetings in a hotel room rented by the Clinton Global Initiative.

The memo removes any doubt that the foundation is little more than an unregistered super PAC working on the Clintons’ behalf. Donors to the charity are simultaneously tapped to give Bill speech requests and other business arrangements, including the $3.5 million he was paid annually to serve as “honorary chairman” of Laureate International Universities. Mr. Band’s memo also notes his success at getting donors to “support candidates running for office that President Clinton was supporting.” (Read more: Wall Street Journal, 10/27/2016) (Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett LLC “Governance Review” 12/03/2011)