Politico Features the Ethics Issue at State - READ ALL OF THIS
The most damning part of this essay is in the second half - it's OLD NEWS now. ABC News apparently got a Clinton appointee removed from a State Department committee on nukes for which his qualifications were that he is a donor to Clinton campaigns and Foundation.
Subtitle: Emails suggest aides were catering to Clinton foundation donors.
As a reminder, here's the statement she submitted to the Ethics office at State in January 2009:
“For the duration of my appointment as Secretary if I am confirmed, I will not participate personally and substantially in any particular matter involving specific parties in which The William J. Clinton Foundation (or the Clinton Global Initiative) is a party or represents a party, unless I am first authorized to participate."
Additionally, Politico provides that also in January 2009, a letter was submitted by Clinton's attorney, laying out “voluntary steps ... President Clinton intends to take to assist Senator Clinton to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest with her duties as Secretary of State.”
And on top of that, there was a memorandum of understanding submitted in December 2015 specifically about ethics guidelines for the Clinton Foundation. That letter was signed by Clinton Foundation CEO Bruce Lindsey and Valerie Jarrett on behalf of the Obama Administration.
Politico summarizes where we are given the new email released yesterday:
An April 2009 exchange between Clinton Foundation executive Doug Band and two of Clinton’s top State Department aides concerning a major foundation donor is the latest in a succession of emails suggesting Clinton staffers violated the spirit, if not the letter, of the ethics agreement Clinton had signed just months earlier.
In the April 2009 exchange, Band seeks urgent access for Gilbert Chagoury, a Lebanese-Nigerian billionaire who donated between $1 million and $5 million to the foundation and pledged an additional $1 billion to the Clinton Global Initiative.
“As you know, he’s key guy there and to us,” Band writes to Clinton aides Cheryl Mills and Huma Abedin. The chain ends with Band urging Abedin, “better if you call him. Now preferable. This is very important.”
They highlight two points which potentially lessen issues for the Secretary, A) that this accommodation of Chagoury is not being done directly BY Clinton (rather by aides to her), and that B) it's possible that Chagoury was contacting the Sate Department to alert it to danger rather than requesting personal favors. Regardless, with respect to the second point, Politico asserts:
Either way, the foundation was seeking special access for a donor — itself a violation of the spirit, if not the letter, of the pledge Clinton and top foundation officials had signed, according to several ethicists.
A representative for Chagoury apparently made a statement to the New York Times yesterday about this email:
Statement from Mark Corallo spokesman for Gilbert Chagoury:
“Ambassador Chagoury doesn’t understand all of the media concern over the Clinton Global Initiative which has done so much good philanthropic work around the world – especially in Africa. He is proud to be associated with what he truly believes is a wonderful charitable organization.
“The last time the ambassador had any contact with Secretary Clinton was at a dinner in 2006. He has had no personal contact with Secretary Clinton or any of her staff since 2006. He has never met or had any contact with Ambassador Feltman. He had no contact of any kind with anyone from the State Department regarding the subject matter of the emails between Mr. Band and Ms. Abedin. He was simply passing along his observations and insights about the dire political situation in Lebanon at the time. But nothing ever came of it. He had no contact of any kind with the State Department.
“It should be noted that while Ambassador Chagoury is a Nigerian of Lebanese ancestry and still has a large extended family and many close friends in Lebanon, he has no business interests in Lebanon. Beyond his family and his many generous charitable works, his greatest concern is for the protection and preservation of the Christians of Lebanon and the Middle East.”
Politico, itself, is only willing to go this far with their assertions:
Ethicists tended to agree that while there may be no evidence of a deliberate violation of Clinton’s pledge, the emails underscored the blurry lines between the globe-spanning charity and Clinton’s work as the nation’s top diplomat.
But get this - this is new, Public Citizen has seemingly not weighed in on this topic until now:
“The Clinton Foundation was taking money from anybody who would give it, and the biggest contributions were from people who had business before the State Department,” said Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen. “They didn’t follow the pledge. … I don’t think anyone in the foundation sought to deliberately violate the pledge, I just don’t think they cared about it,” he added.
Frankly, I don't see the distinction - seems to me that ignoring the pledge is the same as violating it. In both cases, the pledge ends up abridged.
I'd missed this reference to a disclosure from June 10, 2016:
This isn’t the first time this summer the Clinton campaign has had to address lingering controversies related to the Clinton Foundation. In June, emails revealed that Mills had pushed to name a Clinton bundler and foundation donor, Chicago securities trader Rajiv Fernando, to a seat on the sensitive International Security Advisory Board — a position he was forced to give up two days later after ABC News asked for his résumé.
Please note that in this ABC video, they identify Fernando as a Super Delegate in addition to being a donor:
Worth watching the video where ABC News actually commits an act of journalism - the text at the link goes into detail of what they were able to fish out. Also notable is that when ABC attempted to interview Fernando at the 2012 Democratic Convention, they were threatened with arrest if they persisted in attempting to interview Fernando:
Newly released State Department emails help reveal how a major Clinton Foundation donor was placed on a sensitive government intelligence advisory board even though he had no obvious experience in the field, a decision that appeared to baffle the department’s professional staff.
The emails further reveal how, after inquiries from ABC News, the Clinton staff sought to “protect the name” of the Secretary, “stall” the ABC News reporter and ultimately accept the resignation of the donor just two days later.
Copies of dozens of internal emails were provided to ABC News by the conservative political group Citizens United, which obtained them under the Freedom of Information Act after more the two years of litigation with the government.
A prolific fundraiser for Democratic candidates and contributor to the Clinton Foundation, who later traveled with Bill Clinton on a trip to Africa, Rajiv K. Fernando’s only known qualification for a seat on the International Security Advisory Board (ISAB) was his technological know-how. The Chicago securities trader, who specialized in electronic investing, sat alongside an august collection of nuclear scientists, former cabinet secretaries and members of Congress to advise Hillary Clinton on the use of tactical nuclear weapons and on other crucial arms control issues.
I'd missed this in the first few reads of the POLITICO piece - this is apparently the only thing Hillary's campaign has had to say about any of this. Band, apparently, like Abedin, holds multiple positions in the various Clinton organizations:
And the campaign’s response to the latest email batch — emphasizing that Band was working in his role as an aide to Bill Clinton, not an employee of the foundation — similarly hinges on obscure legal reasoning.