In July 2011, Rajiv Fernando is appointed to the International Security Advisory Board (ISAB), a panel filled with high-level foreign policy advisers and security experts. Fernando is granted “top secret” security clearance and given access to highly sensitive information in order to participate on the panel.
Fernando has no relevant experience for the panel but is a prominent donor to Democratic political campaigns, including Clinton’s 2008 campaign, to which he gave large amounts as a “bundler.” He also gave between $1 and $5 million to the Clinton Foundation.
ABC News later comments that Fernando, a “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.”
On August 15, 2011, ABC News asks the State Department about Fernando’s apparent lack of qualifications for the panel. Fernando resigns two days later.
In 2016, some State Department emails will be publicly released about the matter. Department official Jamie Mannina writes in an August 15, 2011 email: “it appears there is much more to this story that we’re unaware of. […] [I]t’s natural to ask how he got onto the board when compared to the rest of the esteemed list of members. […] We must protect the secretary’s [meaning Clinton] and under secretary’s name, as well as the integrity of the [panel]. I think it’s important to get down to the bottom of this before there’s any response.”
Official Wade Boese replies that same day, “The true answer is that S staff (Cheryl Mills) added him. The board’s membership preceded me. Raj [Fernando] was not on the list sent to S; he was added at their insistence.” “S” refers to Secretary Clinton.
Clinton’s aides will later claim that Fernando’s appointment to the panel was not connected to his political donations. However, an unnamed former administration official familiar with the selection will say that department officials were probably “embarrassed” by the attention and the potential conflict of interest. (CNN, 6/11/2016) (ABC News, 6/10/2016)