Judicial Watch announced today the release of more than 200 conflict-of-interest reviews by State Department ethics advisers of proposed Bill Clinton speaking and consulting engagements during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state. The documents were obtained as result of a federal court order in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed against the State Department on May 28, 2013 (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:13-cv-00772)). The lawsuit is ongoing.
June 2011 documents show that the State Department approved a consulting arrangement with a company, Teneo Strategy, led by controversial Clinton Foundation adviser Doug Band. The Clintons ended the deal after only eight months, as criticism mounted over Teneo’s ties to the failed investment firm, MF Global.
Mr. Clinton’s office proposed 215 speeches around the globe. And 215 times, the State Department stated that it had “no objection.”
Mr. Clinton’s speeches included appearances in China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Central America, Europe, Turkey, Thailand, Taiwan, India and the Cayman Islands. Sponsors of the speeches included some of the world’s largest financial institutions—Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Deutsche Bank, American Express and others—as well as major players in technology, energy, health care and media. Other speech sponsors included a car dealership, casino groups, hotel operators, retailers, real estate brokers, a Panamanian air cargo company and a sushi restaurant.
“These documents are a bombshell and show how the Clintons turned the State Department into a racket to line their own pockets,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “How the Obama State Department waived hundreds of ethical conflicts that allowed the Clintons and their businesses to accept money from foreign entities and corporations seeking influence boggles the mind. That former President Clinton trotted the globe collecting huge speaking fees while his wife presided over U.S. foreign policy is an outrage. No wonder it took a court order to get these documents. One can’t imagine what foreign policy issues were mishandled as top State Department officials spent so much time facilitating the Clinton money machine.”
Under established protocols of the State Department, and supplemented by a December 2008 Memorandum of Understandingbetween the Clinton Foundation and Obama Presidential Transition Team, a designated ethics official from the State Department’s legal office was assigned to review any “potential or actual conflict of interest” for Mrs. Clinton while she served as secretary of state. Copies of all decisions were sent to a top adviser to Secretary Clinton, Cheryl Mills, who served as counselor and chief of staff at the Department of State.
The Washington Examiner published a report today on the documents by Judicial Watch Chief Investigative Reporter Micah Morrison and Examiner Senior Watchdog Reporter Luke Rosiak. Morrison and Rosiak note that Mr. Clinton “earned $48 million while his wife presided over U.S. foreign policy, raising questions about whether the Clintons fulfilled ethics agreements related to the Clinton Foundation during Mrs. Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State.”
According to the State Department documents:
- Mr. Clinton spoke before a UBS Wealth Management audience in Chicago in April, 2012. The State Department document notes that attendees would be “approximately 300-400 ultra-high net worth clients, prospective clients, and UBS Financial Advisers.”
- Mr. Clinton spoke to an event hosted by Wells Fargo in San Francisco in October, 2011. The State Department document notes that the event is “being held for Wells Fargo Private Bank and Wells Fargo Family Wealth Group clients, which are clients that have at least $5 million and $50 million in assets respectively.”
- At a “mutually agreeable date” in April 2010, Mr. Clinton was due to speak at Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut. “This would be a private speech of up to 350 friends and patrons on Mohegan Sun,” the State Department document noted. “The event will not be open to the public. The event will not be publicly advertised.”
- For a speech in Moscow in June 2010 sponsored by the investment bank Renaissance Capital, Mr. Clinton would address the theme of “Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States: Going Global.” The document notes that “Renaissance Capital is an investment bank focused on the emerging markets of Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and sub-Saharan Africa.”
- At the Ritz Carlton in Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, Mr. Clinton spoke at a March 2011 ticketed event targeting “the business community in Grand Cayman.”
The potential for conflicts of interest between Hillary Clinton’s role as Secretary of State and Bill Clinton’s international ventures grew increasingly controversial in late 2008 when the former president released a list of donors to his library and foundation in what he termed “a deal between” Obama “and Hillary.” According to an AP wire story, “Saudi Arabia gave $10 million to $25 million to the foundation. Other government donors include Norway, Kuwait, Qatar, Brunei, Oman …” CNN at the time warned that Clinton’s “complicated global business interests could present future conflicts of interest that result in unneeded headaches for the incoming commander-in-chief.”
The controversy deepened further when it was revealed that among those vetting Mrs. Clinton for the job of Secretary of State was Bill Clinton’s former deputy White House counsel Cheryl Mills, a longtime Clinton family confidant, who, the Washington Postwrote in 1999 “endeared herself to the Clintons with her never-back-down, share-nothing, don’t-give-an-inch approach …” After clearing Mrs. Clinton for the DOS job, Mills was named the incoming Secretary’s Chief of Staff. Ms. Mills was a featured speaker at Bill Clinton’s 2012 Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting.
In an April 28, 2008, ruling relating to Ms. Mills conduct as a White House official in responding to concerns about lost White House email records, Judge Royce C. Lamberth called Cheryl Mills’ participation in the matter “loathsome.” He further stated Mills was responsible for “the most critical error made in this entire fiasco… Mills’ actions were totally inadequate to address the problem.” Ms. Mills is currently on the Board of Directors of BlackRock, a leading investment firm. BlackRock is run by Larry Fink who reportedly wanted to be Treasury Secretary for Barack Obama and now, according to another report, is “angling for the job” in a Hillary Clinton administration.