WikiLeaks reveals grifters sparring with each other over spoils at the Clinton Foundation
Yesterday saw what could be the most meaningful release in the ongoing WikiLeaks saga. It so big that the New York Times, Washington Post, and other MSM pilot fish are devoting lots of space to it. In it was a 13-page memo written by Doug Band, defending his overlapping roles as fundraiser, agent for Bill Clinton speaking fees, honorary chancellorships, and other cash-generating activities and honors, and hustling founder of a big bucks consulting firm coincidentally signing up clients who are also donating to the Clinton Foundation and hiring the former president, via Band’s solicitations.
The Band Memo came as an outgrowth of Chelsea Clinton’s horrified response when she discovered how Band, an obvious grifter in my opinion and probably hers, too, was lining his pockets.
Joseph Tanfani of the Los Angeles Times noted that in 2011:
Chelsea Clinton had written Podesta, saying it was time to professionalize the foundation’s operations and complaining that her father had heard of “multiple examples of Teneo ‘hustling’ business” at Clinton Global Initiative meetings.
This led to a formal inquiry by a white shoe law firm, as James V. Grimaldi and Anupreeta Das write in the Wall Street Journal:
Two chief fundraisers for the Clinton Foundation pressed corporate donors to steer business opportunities to former President Bill Clinton as well, according to a hacked memo published Wednesday by WikiLeaks.
The November 2011 memo from Douglas Band, at the time a top aide to Mr. Clinton, outlines extensive fundraising efforts that Mr. Band and a partner deployed on behalf of the Clinton Foundation and how that work sometimes translated into large speaking fees and other paid work for Mr. Clinton. (snip)
Mr. Band and an associate introduced top corporate executives to the former president, on the golf course and elsewhere, and then asked them to contribute money to the Clinton Foundation or attend the Clinton Global Initiative, an annual foundation event.
Mr. Band wrote the memo to lawyers at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP who were reviewing the Clinton Foundation’s activities and links to Mr. Band. The Clintons’ daughter, Chelsea, had sought the review because she worried that Mr. Band was “hustling business” for his consulting firm, Teneo Holdings, at the Clinton Global Initiative, according to a 2011 email by Ms. Clinton.
Keep in mind that Band was in effect writing a legal brief, an argument that all was kosher in his mixed and obviously potentially overlapping roles at Teneo, at the Foundation, and as a fixer. Via the WSJ:
“We have in effect served as agents, lawyers, managers and implementers,” he said, hauling in $50 million in personal work for Clinton and lining up $66 million more. “Neither Justin nor I are separately compensated for these activities,” he wrote, referring to Justin Cooper, another Clinton aide who had joined him in Teneo.
The disputes continued through that year, emails show, with Band carping about Chelsea Clinton’s involvement – at one point he called her a “spoiled brat” – and pushing back against proposals to separate the foundation’s activities from business dealings. Band finally resigned from the foundation last year.
The extent of commingling of activities for these multiple roles is mind-boggling. Rosalind Helderman in the Washington Post:
Band described in the memo how he combined his work for CGI and Teneo. He wrote that he had used a hotel room upstairs from the 2011 CGI gathering to meet with Teneo clients. He also acknowledged giving free CGI memberships to “target Teneo clients” being cultivated as potential foundation donors. Memberships generally cost $20,000 a year.
Teneo, meanwhile, named Bill Clinton its “honorary chairman.” Clinton had been initially tapped for a three-year arrangement in which he would provide advice to Teneo “regarding geopolitical, economic and social trends,” according to a separate June 2011 memo that Band wrote to the State Department seeking ethics approval for the former president’s employment.
Bill Clinton was initially paid $2 million by Teneo, according to “Man of the World,” a book written with the former president’s participation by author Joe Conason.
But Chelsea Clinton grew concerned when news leaked in late 2011 that MF Global, the hedge fund owned by former New Jersey governor Jon Corzine, had been paying the Clinton-tied firm $125,000 a month just before MF Global went bankrupt.
According to emails released by WikiLeaks, Chelsea Clinton complained in December 2011 to longtime Clinton aide John Podesta, who at the time was serving as an adviser to the Clinton Foundation, that she had been informed that a member of her father’s office staff who answered to Band had been making calls to British lawmakers “on behalf of President Clinton” for Teneo clients, particularly for the chief executive of Dow Chemical.
Chelsea Clinton wrote that the calls were occurring without her father’s knowledge and that the reactions she was hearing to them would “horrify” Bill Clinton. In another email, she wrote she feared Teneo was “hustling business at CGI.”
Chelsea Clinton’s concerns helped spark efforts at the foundation to adopt new policies governing outside consulting agreements designed to erect a more solid wall between Bill Clinton’s private and charitable activities. Emails show that Cheryl Mills, who at the time was serving as Hillary Clinton’s chief of staff at the State Department, was deeply involved in the foundation’s proceedings. (snip)
Bill Clinton also separated from Teneo, returning to the company all but $100,000 of the money he had been paid, tax returns show.
The New York Times coverage is focused more on the reactions of the family, and in its own way is very revealing.
… efforts to minimize potential conflicts at the foundation led to power struggles and infighting among aides and Mrs. Clinton’s family.
Chelsea Clinton accused her father’s aides of taking “significant sums of money from my parents personally,” of “hustling” during foundation events to win clients for their own business, and of even installing spyware on her chief of staff’s computer.
… the emails provide an extraordinary look at the soap opera that unfolded years later as people close to the couple felt their power threatened.
They knew it was a mess and could not withstand public scrutiny:
Behind the scenes, Mrs. Clinton’s aides grappled with how to sever her from the problematic optics of some of the philanthropy’s fund-raising practices.
In an October 2014 email, Mr. Mook asked whether Mrs. Clinton’s name would be used in connection with the foundation, which is formally known as the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation. “It will invite press scrutiny and she’ll be held accountable for what happens there,” he wrote.
The next year, when Mrs. Clinton was on the verge of declaring her candidacy, Cheryl D. Mills, a lawyer and top aide, said she discussed with Mrs. Clinton various “steps” to take to adjust her relationship with the foundation, including her resignation from the foundation’s board.
Not all is happy in Clinton-land. There is not enough graft to go around. Feelings are hurt.
The day Mrs. Clinton’s mother, Dorothy Rodham, died in 2011, Chelsea Clinton emailed Mr. Podesta. “Doug called and yelled and screamed at my Dad about how could he do this,” she said, a reference to the internal scrutiny going on at the foundation. “My mother is exhausted, we are all heartbroken but we need a strategy and my father needs advice/counsel.”
Mr. Band has said the exchange described in the email never happened.
Mr. Band, who helped Mr. Clinton build the foundation, clearly felt irritated by Chelsea Clinton’s stream of implications that he had padded his own pockets from his work for her father. (snip)
When Chelsea Clinton, using a pseudonym “Diane Reynolds,” that she also sometimes used to check into hotels, sent Mr. Band a complimentary email in January 2012, he forwarded it to Mr. Podesta and Ms. Mills.
“As they say, the apple doesn’t fall far,” he wrote. “A kiss on the cheek while she is sticking the knife in the back, and front.”
Sounds more like the Borgias than a U.S. president, doesn't it?