Haim Saban appears on the cover of The Jewish Journal, November 11, 2010. (Credit: public domain)
Bill Clinton seeks approval from the State Department for 3 three-year consulting arrangements, and he wants an answer for all 3 within five days. Due to a deal with the White House, he needs to get approval from department ethics officials while his wife Hillary is secretary of state. All three deals are with companies headed by Bill’s longtime friends:
- Shangri-La Industries, led by California investor Steve Bing.
- Wasserman Investments, led by entertainment executive Casey Wasserman.
- Saban Capital Group, led by entertainment executive and multi-billionaire Haim Saban.
For all three deals, Clinton would be paid for general advice but not specific investment advice, since that could come from his knowledge of his wife’s work as secretary of state.
Two of the deals are quickly approved, but the Saban deal meets resistance by department lawyers. Jim Thessin, the department’s top ethics approver, writes in an email to Bill Clinton’s office, “We have an objection to the [Saban Capital Group proposal] based on the fact that Haim Saban, a founder of this entity, is actively involved in foreign affairs issues, particularly with regard to the Middle East, which is a priority area for the Secretary.” As a result, the Saban deal does not get approved. However, Saban had donated generously to the Clinton Foundation and he continues to do so, giving $7 million in 2010 and 2011, and more after that. (Politico, 2/25/2015)
In a May 2010 article, Saban will explain that his main political interest is supporting right-wing political parties in Israel by influencing US politics. He lists three ways he does this: making donations to political parties, establishing think tanks, and controlling media outlets. (The New Yorker, 5/10/2010)