2009: A new corporate consulting firm is closely tied to the Clinton Foundation, presenting new conflict of interest issues.

Douglas Band (Credit: C. Patrick McMullan / Newscom)

Douglas Band (Credit: C. Patrick McMullan / Newscom)

Douglas Band starts a lucrative corporate consulting firm named Teneo. Band is a longtime personal assistant to Bill Clinton, as well as his “surrogate son,” and a top leader of the Clinton Foundation. Bill Clinton joins Teneo as a paid adviser. The New York Times will later report that no outside business has “drawn more scrutiny in Clinton circles than Teneo. […] 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 [Manhattan] office formerly belonging to one of the country’s top hedge funds.” The firm recruits clients who are also Clinton Foundation donors, and encourages other clients to donate to the foundation. Teneo’s marketing materials highlight its links to Bill Clinton and the Clinton Foundation. The Times will later report, “Some Clinton aides and foundation employees began to wonder where the foundation ended and Teneo began.”

Bill Clinton will end his paid role in March 2012 after a controversy over one of Teneo’s clients that allegedly upset Hillary Clinton. Band will leave his paid position with the foundation in late 2010, but he will continue to have a key role in the Clinton Global Initiative, one of the foundation’s major projects. (The New York Times, 8/13/2013)

Band will finally resign from all his remaining Clinton Foundation positions in May 2015, around the time a book called Clinton, Inc. comes out that is critical of links between Teneo and the Clinton Foundation, and also just weeks before Hillary Clinton will begin her second presidential campaign. (The New York Post, 6/21/2015)

January 5, 2009: Clinton tells the State Department that she will go “above and beyond” the law and regulations to avoid even the appearance of conflict of interest between the department and the Clinton Foundation.

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Jim Thessin (Credit: American Airlines volvió a Paraguay)

Clinton writes a formal letter to Jim Thessin, who is a deputy legal adviser and “designated agency ethics official” for the State Department. In it, she states, “To avoid even the appearance of a conflict” of interest, she and her husband Bill Clinton are “voluntarily taking steps that go above and beyond the requirements of the law and ethics regulations with respect to [Bill’s] personal income earned from speeches and consulting as well as respect to the William J. Clinton Foundation and its initiatives.”

She goes on to list in detail more pledges to avoid any potential conflicts of interest. Regarding the Clinton Foundation, she writes: “For the duration of my appointment as Secretary [of State] 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…”

She concludes with a catch-all, “Finally, I will recuse myself from participation on a case by case basis in any particular matter in which, in my judgment, I determine that a reasonable person with knowledge of the relevant facts would question my impartiality…”  (US Senate, 1/5/2009)

January 15, 2009: Limits are placed on Clinton Global Initiative while Hillary Clinton is secretary of state.

Bill Clinton appears with Brad Pitt at the fifth annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative on September 24, 2009. (Credit: Anthony Dixon/ World Entertainment News Daily)

Bill Clinton appears with Brad Pitt at the fifth annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative on September 24, 2009. (Credit: Anthony Dixon/ World Entertainment News Daily)

Under pressure from the White House to avoid a conflict of interest with Hillary Clinton’s new position as secretary of state, former US President Bill Clinton agrees to step away from direct involvement in the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), a yearly fundraising conference. He will continue serving as CGI’s chairperson, but will not solicit money or sponsorships. Additionally, CGI will cease accepting foreign contributions and will not host events outside the US. (The Associated Press, 1/18/2009)

September 23, 2010: A CGI commitment benefits a for-profit company partly owned by friends of the Clintons.

Julie Tauber McMahon (Credit: Getty Images)

Julie Tauber McMahon (Credit: Getty Images)

The Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) is a yearly conference connected to the Clinton Foundation that helps inspire and arrange donations to solve problems around the world.

At the personal request of Bill Clinton, the September 2010 CGI conference sets up a financial commitment to benefit a for-profit company partly owned by people who have ties to Bill and Hillary Clinton. The company, Energy Pioneer Solutions Inc., is a small start-up that has a business plan to insulate homes and let the owners pay through their monthly utility bills. The company is 29% owned by Scott Kleeb, a Democrat who twice ran for Congress from Nebraska; 29% by Jane Eckert, an art gallery owner; 29% by Julie Tauber McMahon, a close friend of Bill Clinton; 5% by Andrew Tobias, Democratic National Committee treasurer and longtime Clinton friend; and 5% by Mark Weiner, a former Rhode Island Democratic chairman, and also a longtime Clinton friend.

Out of thousands of CGI commitments, this is one of only a handful that involve private individuals making a personal financial investment in a for-profit company, instead of donations to non-profits or charities. The commitment is added to a database at the CGI website, but it will be removed several months later.

The Wall Street Journal will later report, “The reason was to avoid calling attention to Mr. Clinton’s friendship with one company co-owner, Ms. McMahon, and to protect the integrity of Mr. Clinton and the Clinton Global Initiative, according to people familiar with the matter.” Bill Clinton also personally endorsed the company to Energy Secretary Steven Chu, resulting in a $812,000 grant from the Energy Department that year. The IRS requires that tax-exempt charitable organizations like CGI “must not be organized or operated for the benefit of private interests.” The $2 million commitment is eventually achieved for the company, although it’s not clear which who gave and by how much. (The Wall Street Journal, 5/12/2016)

In 2014, it will be alleged in some tabloids that McMahon had a prolonged affair will Bill Clinton, roughly from 2001 until 2013, but McMahon will deny it and say they are just close friends. (The Daily Mail, 7/25/2014) (Heavy.com, 8/14/2014)

June 19–20, 2012: Cheryl Mills conducts interviews to find the Clinton Foundation’s next leader while working as Clinton’s chief of staff, raising a possible conflict of interest.

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Cheryl D. Mills speaks during a commitment workshop titled “Haiti: Lessons for the Future” at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) annual meeting on September 24, 2012. The CGI logo is in the background. (Credit: Reuters)

On June 19, 2012, Clinton’s chief of staff Cheryl Mills travels from Washington, DC, to New York City. The next day, she interviews two high-level business executives in order to help the Clinton Foundation find a new leader.

When Clinton became secretary of state, she and the Clinton Foundation agreed to abide by rules specially created in an agreement with the Obama administration not to “create conflicts or the appearance of conflicts for Senator Clinton as Secretary of State.”

When news of this trip is made public in August 2016, Clinton’s campaign will claim that any work Mills did for the Clinton Foundation, such as this trip, was strictly voluntary.

The two executives interviewed by Mills had worked at Pfizer and WalMart, companies that CNN points out “have been huge donors to Foundation, and have worked with the Clinton Global Initiative.” However, neither of them get the job. (CNN, 8/11/2016)

October 2013: Clinton’s brother gets a financial stake in a mining venture in Haiti.

Clinton presided over the grand opening of a Haitian industrial park in October 2012, two months before VCS Mining got a lucrative gold mining permit. (Credit: Getty Images)

Clinton presided over the grand opening of a Haitian industrial park in October 2012, two months before VCS Mining got a lucrative gold mining permit. (Credit: Getty Images)

In December 2012, a US-based company called VCS Mining wins one of the first two gold-mining permits issued by the Haitian government in more than 50 years. The mining project is heavily criticized by Haitian politicians who call it a potential environmental disaster and a waste of resources. Its permit is put on a hold due to the backlash.

In October 2013, Hillary Clinton’s brother Tony Rodham is added to VCS Mining’s advisory board. Rodham is rewarded with stock options in the mining company that will vest if the mine is successful. Both Rodham and VCS Mining chief executive and president Angelo Viard later claim that Rodham was added to the board after a chance meeting at the previous year’s Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) annual conference. Both also claim that Rodham’s involvement with the mining company has nothing to do with the political power of the Clintons in the US or in Haiti. (Bill and Hillary Clinton are widely seen as leading the reconstruction effort since the 2010 Haiti earthquake.) Rodham used to work as a repo man, prison guard, and private detective, but has more recently worked for an investment firm. (The Washington Post, 3/20/2015)

In March 2016, the New York Times will report that many in Haiti see Rodham’s involvement in the mining company as him taking advantage of his sister’s political influence for personal profit. (The New York Times, 3/14/2016)

One week after the Times article that suggested Clinton could be hurt politically by the connection, VCS Mining will announce that Rodham has stepped down from the board due to company “restructuring.” (VCS Mining, 3/21/2016)

May 5, 2014: 29 of the 30 companies in the Dow Jones Industrial Average index have donated to the Clinton Foundation.

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30 Dow Jones Companies (Credit: public domain)

This is according to a Bloomberg News analysis. Twenty-five of the Dow Jones’s 30 companies gave donations directly to the Clinton Foundation, while 27 of the companies announced philanthropic projects are to its associated Clinton Global Initiative (CGI). Sixteen of the companies also responded to a plea from Hillary Clinton’s State Department to help underwrite a $60 million US pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai Expo. The lone holdout is UnitedHealth Group Inc.

The 30 companies listed on the Dow Jones Industrial Average, collectively spent $193 million last year lobbying the federal government and Congress, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

As an example, Procter & Gamble Co., known for making a variety of household items, gave $3.9 million to CGI and donated another $3 million to the pavilion fund. While Hillary Clinton was secretary of state, the company lobbied the State Department on more than two-dozen issues, including trade deals and China policy.

Even Bloomberg News, which conducted this news analysis, is owned by Bloomberg LP, which has given $50,000 to $100,000 to the Clinton Foundation, and also has given money for the pavilion. Additionally, Bloomberg Philanthropies has given between $100,000 and $250,000 to the foundation.

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David Almasi (Credit: public domain)

David Almasi, the executive director for the National Center for Public Policy Research, says such donations are “always going to raise suspicions. It’s the appearance of impropriety that is the problem. If [the Clintons] are going to play like this, they are going to have to accept that we are going to be skeptical.”

Bloomberg News notes, “Federal law bans companies from making donations to candidates. The once and possibly future first family’s political and philanthropic network offers the private sector access points in the form of charitable projects that polish brands on both sides of the transaction.”

Bill Allison, director of the non-partisan Sunlight Foundation, says, “Even the donors who are writing $10,000 checks are going to get a level of attention to their concerns from Bill Clinton, and he is someone who is married to — potentially — the next president of the United States.”

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Ralph Nader (Credit: public domain)

Consumer advocate Ralph Nader says, “This is the new theme. It isn’t just PACs [political action committees], it is giving to foundations with the politician’s name on it. You’ve got to call these companies. You’ve got to meet with them. Socialize with them. You become more dependent on them. You become more obligated. It is a terrible web of influence that operates in nonprofit areas.” (Bloomberg News, 5/5/2014)

November 19, 2014: The Clinton Foundation’s travel expenses almost double from the previous year.

Bill and Chelsea Clinton (left and center) in Johannesburg, South Africa, on August 8, 2013. (Credit: Jemal Countess / Getty Images Europe)

Bill and Chelsea Clinton (left and center) in Johannesburg, South Africa, on August 8, 2013. (Credit: Jemal Countess / Getty Images Europe)

Newly released tax filings indicate that travel expenses for the Clinton Foundation were $8.5 million in 2013, nearly double that of previous years. This is 10% of the foundation’s total expenses. The filing notes, “The Board recognizes that, due to extraordinary security and other requirements, William J. Clinton, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Chelsea Clinton may require the need to travel by charter or in first class, the determination of which will be made on a case-by-case basis.” All three Clintons had not been members of the board in previous years, due to Hillary being secretary of state. The Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) also was spun off as a separate entity during her tenure, then remerged into the foundation in 2013. However, expenses are not itemized to determine how much travel costs are for each person or program. (Politico, 11/19/2014)

In the previous year’s income tax form, the foundation claimed that it had not provided “first class or charter travel” for any of its employees. (The Clinton Foundation, 9/10/2013)

March 7, 2015—Mid-July 2016: Donations to a state senate election lead to potential conflicts of interests in three FBI investigations for a high-ranking FBI official.

The Clintons stand behind Terry McAuliffe during his inauguration as the Commonwealth of Virginia’s 72nd governor. (Credit: Patrick Semansky / The Associated Press)

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe is widely considered the best friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton, and was co-chair of one of Bill’s presidential campaigns and the chair of Hillary’s 2008 presidential campaign. In March 2016, McAuliffe says, “We’re best friends, I’ve been family friends with the Clinton’s for thirty years. It’s a great relationship, we vacationed together for years, we’re just very personal friends…” (The Valley’s Music Place, 3/31/2016)

On March 7, 2015, McAuliffe and other state Democratic Party leaders meet with Dr. Jill McCabe and persuade her to run for a state senator seat in Virginia. Dr. McCabe is a hospital physician who has never run for political office before. This has potentially larger political implications, because her husband is Andrew McCabe, an FBI official who runs the FBI’s Washington, DC, field office at the time.

Dr. Jill McCabe (Credit: Twitter)

Dr. Jill McCabe (Credit: Twitter)

FBI officials will later claim that after the March 7, 2015 meeting, Andrew McCabe seeks ethics advice from the FBI and follows it, avoiding involvement with public corruption cases in Virginia, and also avoiding any of his wife’s campaign activities or events.

Five days before Jill McCabe is asked to run, on March 2, 2015, the New York Times publicly reveals Clinton’s use of a private email address, and her use of a private email server is revealed two days later, starting a major and prolonged political controversy. Jill McCabe announces her candidacy on March 12, 2015.

On July 10, 2015, the FBI’s Clinton email investigation formally begins, although it may have informally begun earlier.

Andrew McCabe and Jill McCabe pose at a campaign event in 2015. (Credit: Sharyl Attkisson)

Andrew McCabe and Jill McCabe pose at a campaign event in 2015. (Credit: Sharyl Attkisson)

Andrew McCabe’s Washington, DC, field office provides personnel and resources to the investigation. At the end of July 2015, he is promoted to assistant deputy FBI director, the number three position in the FBI.

During the 2015 election season, McAuliffe’s political action committee (PAC) donates $467,500 to Jill McCabe’s campaign. Furthermore, the Virginia Democratic Party, ”over which Mr. McAuliffe exerts considerable control,” according to the Wall Street Journal, donates an additional $207,788 to her campaign. “That adds up to slightly more than $675,000 to her candidacy from entities either directly under Mr. McAuliffe’s control or strongly influenced by him.”

This represents more than a third of all the campaign funds McCabe raises in the election. She is the third-largest recipient of funds from McAuliffe’s PAC that year.

Virginia State Senator Dick Black (Credit: Twitter)

Virginia State Senator Dick Black (Credit: Twitter)

On November 3, 2015, Jill McCabe loses the election to incumbent Republican Dick Black. Once the campaign is over, “[Andrew] McCabe and FBI officials felt the potential conflict-of-interest issues ended,” according to the Journal.

In February 2016, Andrew McCabe is promoted to deputy FBI director, the second highest position in the FBI. In this role, he is part of the executive leadership team overseeing the Clinton email investigation, though FBI officials say any final decisions are made by FBI Director James Comey.

However, that is not the only potential conflict of interest. By February 2016, four FBI field offices are conducting investigations of the Clinton Foundation. McAuliffe was a Clinton Foundation board member until he resigned when he became the governor of Virginia in 2013. (The Wall Street Journal, 10/24/2016)

Also, at some point in 2015, if not earlier, the FBI begins conducting an investigation of McAuliffe. When the existence of this investigation is publicly leaked in May 2016, media reports suggest it may involve McAuliffe’s financial relationship with a Chinese businessperson who has donated millions to the foundation. It is also reported that investigators have looked at McAuliffe’s time as a board member of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), a yearly conference run by the Clinton Foundation.  (CNN, 5/24/2016)

Andrew McCabe (Credit: Getty Images)

Andrew McCabe (Credit: Getty Images)

In the spring of 2016, Andrew McCabe agrees to recuse himself from the McAuliffe investigation, due to McAuliffe’s donations to Jill McCabe’s election campaign. However, he doesn’t recuse himself from the Clinton Foundation investigation or the Clinton email investigation, despite McAuliffe’s close ties to Bill and Hillary Clinton. (The Wall Street Journal, 10/24/2016)

In mid-July 2016, the FBI seeks to reorganize the Clinton Foundation investigation. McCabe decides the FBI’s New York office should take the lead, while the Washington office that he formerly headed should take the lead with the McAuliffe investigation. The Journal will later report, “Within the FBI, the decision was viewed with skepticism by some, who felt the probe would be stronger if the foundation and McAuliffe matters were combined.” However, the decision is implemented.

McCabe also is involved in an effort to shut down the foundation investigation in August 2016, but his role is unclear.

In October 2016, McCabe’s potential conflicts of interest will be revealed by two Wall Street Journal articles. (The Wall Street Journal, 10/30/2016) In early November 2016, the Journal will report that “some [in the FBI] have blamed [McCabe], claiming he sought to stop agents from pursuing the [Clinton Foundation] case this summer. His defenders deny that, and say it was the Justice Department that kept pushing back on the investigation.” (The Wall Street Journal, 11/2/2016)

Around that time, James Kallstrom, the former head of the FBI’s New York office, will say of McCabe, “The guy has no common sense. He should be demoted and taken out of the chain of command.” (The American Spectator, 11/1/2016)

January 28, 2016: Clinton’s email scandal could be linked to Clinton Foundation corruption.

John Schindler, a former National Security Agency (NSA) analyst and counterintelligence officer, writes, “Why Ms. Clinton and her staff refused to use State Department email for official business is an open and important question. Suspicion inevitably falls on widespread allegations of pay-for-play, a corrupt scheme whereby foreign entities gave cash to the Clinton Global Initiative in exchange for Ms. Clinton’s favors at Foggy Bottom [State Department headquarters]. […] Regardless of whether Ms. Clinton was engaged in political corruption, she unquestionably cast aside security as secretary of state.” The Clinton Global Initiative is one of the Clinton Foundation’s major projects. (The New York Observer, 1/28/2016)

March 30, 2016: Clinton says the Clinton Foundation will continue if she is elected president.

Clinton on the Rachel Maddow Show on March 30, 2016. (Credit: MSNBC)

Clinton on the Rachel Maddow Show on March 30, 2016. (Credit: MSNBC)

Clinton is interviewed by MSNBC political commentator Rachel Maddow. Maddow asks her, “I think it is not unreasonable to suspect that people may give donations to the Clinton Foundation hoping that they will favorably influence your opinion toward them, as a presidential candidate, or eventually as president if you’re elected. […] Is there a case to be made, an ethical case to be made that the Clinton Foundation and the [Clinton] Global Initiative should essentially be wound down as a family foundation while you run for president?”

Clinton disagrees. She describes the charity work of the foundation in detail, then says: “So, I think the answer is transparency. And there is no doubt that there will be complete transparency about donations.” (Newsweek, 3/30/2016)

May 13, 2016: Trump doubts that the Clinton Foundation is a real charity.

New York Post front page on May 13, 2016, with photos of Bill Clinton and Julie Tauber McMahon. (Credit: New York Post)

New York Post front page on May 13, 2016, with photos of Bill Clinton and Julie Tauber McMahon. (Credit: New York Post)

When asked about the Clinton Foundation, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump says, “I assume you put the word charity in quotes.” His comment comes one day after the Wall Street Journal reported that the foundation-connected Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) may have benefitted a for-profit company partially owned by Julie Tauber McMahon.

Furthermore, there have been tabloid accusations that Bill Clinton and McMahon had a long-time romance despite his marriage to Hillary Clinton. Trump says of the story, “Well, it is a bombshell, there’s no doubt about it.” He also says people have been whispering about Bill Clinton’s romantic involvement with McMahon “for years,” but “I have no idea what went on.”

Real Clear Politics reporter Rebecca Berg comments, “It plays right into this narrative that [Trump] is trying to build that Hillary Clinton is crooked, that she’s corrupt, and Donald Trump we saw in the primary used this specter of public corruption very effectively.” (CNN, 5/13/2016) (The Wall Street Journal, 5/12/2016(The Daily Mail, 7/25/2014) (The New York Post, 5/13/2016)

May 23, 2016: The FBI is investigating the governor of Virginia, including his time as a board member of the CGI.

Governor Terry McAuliffe (Credit: public domain)

Governor Terry McAuliffe (Credit: public domain)

CNN reports, “Virginia Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe is the subject of an ongoing investigation by the FBI and prosecutors from the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section, US officials briefed on the probe say. […] [I]nvestigators have scrutinized McAuliffe’s time as a board member of the Clinton Global Initiative [CGI],” a yearly conference run by the Clinton Foundation. There is no allegation that the foundation did anything wrong.

The investigation is particularly focused on a $120,000 donation by Wang Wenliang through his US businesses to McAuliffe’s campaign for governor. Wang is a Chinese citizen and used to be a delegate to China’s National People’s Congress. However, he holds permanent resident status in the US, and is therefore eligible to donate to political campaigns, so it’s not clear what the alleged wrongdoing is. Wang has also given $2 million to the Clinton Foundation, as well as other major donations to other US-based charities. (CNN, 5/23/2016)

August 18, 2016: The Clinton Foundation announces what changes it will make if Hillary Clinton is elected president.

Former President Bill Clinton tells foundation staff what changes the foundation will make to deal with conflict of interest concerns if Hillary is elected president in November 2016:

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Bill Clinton (Credit: Darren McCollester / Getty Images)

  • The foundation will stop accepting donations from any foreign entity or from any corporations or corporate charities. Only US citizens and independent charities will be able to donate.
  • Bill Clinton will resign from the foundation’s board.
  • He will not give any paid speeches until the November 2016 election, and then will not give any paid speeches if Hillary wins the election.
  • He also will stop personally soliciting donations for the foundation.
  • This year’s annual Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) meeting will be the last one.

All of these changes will occur only if Clinton wins the presidential election, except for the CGI meetings, which will stop even if she loses.

Republicans criticize the changes as insufficient. Republican National Committee (RNC) chair Reince Priebus says the changes are “too little, too late.” He says the foundation “should immediately cease accepting foreign donations and return every penny ever taken from other countries, several of which have atrocious human rights records and ties to terrorism.” He also says the foundation continuing to accept foreign donations during Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign is a “massive, ongoing conflict of interest that gets bigger by the day.” (The Associated Press, 8/22/2016) (The Los Angeles Times, 8/22/2016)