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)

April 16, 2012: The government of Qatar promises $1 million to Bill Clinton, which could be a violation of the Clinton Foundation’s ethics violation with the Obama Administration.

Amitabh Desai (Credit: Social Miami)

Amitabh Desai (Credit: Social Miami)

Amitabh Desai, director of foreign policy for the Clinton Foundation, writes in an email to other foundation officials, that he met with Qatar’s ambassador to the US four days earlier, on April 12, 2012. The ambassador is Mohammed Bin Abdullah Bin Mutib Al Rumaihi, who just assumed that position several weeks earlier. (Qatar Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 12/26/2013) (WikiLeaks, 10/13/2016)

He summarizes that Al Rumaihi “Would like to see WJC [former President William Jefferson Clinton] ‘for five minutes’ in NYC [New York City], to present $1 million check that Qatar promised for WJC’s birthday in 2011.”

The assistant to the Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed Bin Abdullah Bin Mutib Al-Rumaihi attends a foriegn ministers meeting at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo on March 9, 2015. Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi called for the creation of a unified Arab force to battle the spread of Islamic extremist groups.  AFP PHOTO/ MOHAMED EL-SHAHED        (Photo credit should read MOHAMED EL-SHAHED/AFP/Getty Images)

Qatar Ambassador Mohammed Bin Abdullah Bin Mutib Al-Rumaihi (Credit: Mohamed el-Shahed / Agence France Presse / Getty Images)

Additionally, “Qatar would welcome our suggestions for investments in Haiti – particularly on education and health. They have allocated most of their $20 million but are happy to consider projects we suggest. I’m collecting input from CF [Clinton Foundation] Haiti team.”

The email is sent to foundation officials Douglas Band, Justin Cooper, Bruce Lindsey, Laura Graham, and Clinton advisor John Podesta. (WikiLeaks, 10/13/2016)

Two years later, on August 19, 2014, Clinton will comment in an email: “[W]e need to use our diplomatic and more traditional intelligence assets to bring pressure on the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups in the region.” (ISIL is also known as the terrorist group ISIS.) (WikiLeaks, 10/13/2016)

On October 14, 2016, the day after this email is made public by WikiLeaks, Reuters will report that this donation, if it took place, could be a major ethics breach. The donation takes place while Hillary Clinton is secretary of state, and the Clinton Foundation made an agreement with the Obama administration not to accept any increases in donations by foreign governments during that time. The email doesn’t specify that the donation was accepted, or if it went to the foundation or to Bill Clinton personally. Foundation records indicate the Qatar government did give over $1 million, but it isn’t clear when. When asked by Reuters if the donation was accepted by the foundation, a foundation spokesperson will decline to say. (Reuters, 10/14/2016)

September 22, 2013: The Clinton Foundation’s possible conflicts of interest are scrutinized.

Bill Clinton (left) and Douglas Band (right). (Credit: The White House)

Bill Clinton (left) and Douglas Band (right). (Credit: The White House)

The New Republic publishes a long investigative article about Douglas Band, who has simultaneously been Bill Clinton’s personal assistant, a top manager in the Clinton Foundation, and the head of the Teneo consulting firm. It discusses the Clinton Foundation: “Bill Clinton now leads a sprawling philanthropic empire like no other. The good it achieves is undeniable. It has formed partnerships with multinationals and wealthy individuals to distribute billions of dollars all over the globe. Its many innovative projects include efforts to lower the costs of medicines in developing nations and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions in major cities. And yet it’s hard to shake the sense that it’s not all about saving the world. There’s an undertow of transactionalism in the glittering annual dinners, the fixation on celebrity, and a certain contingent of donors whose charitable contributions and business interests occupy an uncomfortable proximity. More than anyone else except Clinton himself, Band is responsible for creating this culture. And not only did he create it; he has thrived in it.”

The article also says, “For corporations, attaching Clinton’s brand to their social investments offered a major PR [public relations] boost. As further incentive, they could hope for a kind word from Clinton the next time they landed in a sticky spot. ‘Coca-Cola or Dow or whoever would come to the president,’ explains a former White House colleague of Band’s, ‘and say, ‘We need your help on this.’ Negotiating these relationships, and the trade-offs they required, could involve some gray areas.” Potential conflicts of interest with Band’s Teneo company, the Clinton Foundation, and Hillary Clinton’s role as secretary of state were a major issue as long as she held that job. (The New Republic, 9/22/2013)

August 11, 2016: Ethics experts say recently released emails indicate the spirit of Clinton’s pledges to keep the interests of the State Department and the Clinton Foundation was violated.

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Gilbert Chagoury (left) and Bill Clinton (right) attend a 2005 Pride of Heritage Banquet event in Beverly Hills, California. (Credit: ABC News)

Recently released Huma Abedin emails, from the time she was deputy chief of staff to Clinton, are widely reported in the mainstream media due to some emails that suggest possible conflicts of interest between the State Department and the Clinton Foundation. For instance, in an April 2009 email exchange between Clinton Foundation executive Douglas Band and Abedin, Band sought 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 (CGI).

On January 5, 2009, just prior to becoming secretary of state, Clinton wrote in a formal letter to a State Department ethics official: “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, a December 2008 memo of understanding was signed between the Obama administration and the Clinton Foundation that also limited how Clinton and her staff could interact with the foundation to avoid conflict of interest problems.

Politico reports that the emails between Abedin and Band regarding Chagoury “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.” “Several ethicists” agree that the emails suggest violations of Clinton’s ethics agreements.

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Meredith McGehee (Credit: Twitter)

Meredith McGehee, policy director for the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center, says that the actual language of the pledge is “not surprisingly, very lawyerly … [and] there is an argument to be made that Clinton herself has not violated what was in the pledge.” But she adds, “Whether she or her aides have violated the spirit of the pledge … yeah, of course they have. The notion of continuing contact between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department — that was not supposed to happen.”

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Craig Holman (Credit: public domain)

Craig Holman, who works for Public Citizen, a non-profit, consumer rights advocacy group, says: “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. 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.” (Politico, 8/11/2016)

August 16, 2016: The Boston Globe argues that the Clinton Foundation should be entirely shut down if Clinton is elected president.

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The Boston Globe Logo (Credit: public domain)

The Boston Globe‘s editorial board writes an editorial entitled: “Clinton Foundation should stop accepting funds.” The Globe opines: “Since its founding, the foundation has supported relief in Haiti, global health, and other good causes. It also provided posts or paychecks for some members of the Clinton political team, like Cheryl Mills, Douglas Band, and Huma Abedin, and afforded the former president a platform and travel budget. Many of the foundation’s donations come from overseas, including from foreign governments with troubling human rights records.”

The editorial concludes: “Winding down the foundation, and transferring its assets to some other established charity, doesn’t have to hurt charitable efforts. If the foundation’s donors are truly motivated by altruism, and not by the lure of access to the Clintons, then surely they can find other ways to support the foundation’s goals.  … The Clintons should move now to end donations to the foundation, and make plans to shut it down in November. Even if they’ve done nothing illegal, the foundation will always look too much like a conflict of interest for comfort.” (The Boston Globe, 8/16/2016)

Two days later, the foundation will announce some changes, including refusing all foreign donations if Clinton is elected, but it won’t go nearly as far as this editorial suggests.