A hacked memo published Wednesday by WikiLeaks sheds new light on the previously reported connections between the Clinton Foundation and a corporate consulting firm run by two longtime allies of the Clinton family.
Plenty of ink has been spilled on how onetime Clinton aide Douglas Band and Declan Kelly, who worked for Hillary Clinton’s State Department, leveraged their connections to the former first family to attract investors to their firm, Teneo. Teneo clients were invited to attend annual meetings of the Clinton Foundation’s Clinton Global Initiative event, and the consulting firm used those meetings as an opportunity to recruit even more new clients.
The documents published by WikiLeaks this week purported to show that these intimate ties between Teneo and the Clinton Foundation made some in Clintonland deeply uneasy, fearing that they could lead to allegations of quid pro quo. One memo released Wednesday describes in detail how Band encouraged Teneo clients to donate to the Clinton Foundation, and pushed those donors to provide consulting contracts and paid speaking engagements for Bill Clinton.
TPM outlines what we know about the ties between Teneo, Bill Clinton’s private finances and the Clinton Foundation.
Founded in 1997, the Clinton Foundation came under intense scrutiny from news organizations when Hillary Clinton joined the organization following her tenure as secretary of state. As early as 2013, The New York Times and the New Republic published investigations into the overlap between Teneo and the foundation, highlighting the work that Band and Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton’s closest aide, did for both Teneo and the State Department simultaneously. That year, the Republican-led Senate Judiciary Committee began investigating whether the consulting firm had improper access to senior government officials in Clinton’s State Department.
The WikiLeaks documents appear to reinforce many conflicts uncovered in previous coverage of the links between Teneo and the Clinton Foundation. The New York Times reported in August 2013 that some at the foundation were uncomfortable with Band’s dual efforts to attract new donors to Teneo, which was founded in 2009, and help to build up the foundation’s coffers.
“Some Clinton aides and foundation employees began to wonder where the foundation ended and Teneo began,” the Times reported.
Bill Clinton served as an adviser to the consulting firm until 2012, and Band remained involved with the Clinton Global Initiative, the foundation’s glitzy annual fundraising conference, after leaving his paid position with the foundation in 2010.
A New Republic article from Septempber 2013 found that “a number of key Teneo clients,” including the Rockefeller Foundation and Coca-Cola, were “closely involved with Clinton’s charitable work.” The report also recounted that Teneo was instrumental in pursuing paid speaking invitations for Bill Clinton.
The WikiLeaks documents published this week are unrelated to donations the foundation received from foreign governments, focusing instead on the intersection between the foundation and Bill Clinton’s personal finances.
The document at the heart of the new email dump is a 2011 memo Band wrote to lawyers conducting an audit of the foundation. It serves as a roadmap to what Band describes as “Bill Clinton Inc.,” his effort to secure “in- kind services for the President and his family — for personal travel, hospitality, vacation and the like,” and illuminates the mutually beneficial ties between separate Clinton-connected entities.
Spokesmen for Bill and Chelsea Clinton and the foundation declined the Washington Post’s request for comment. Hillary Clinton campaign spokesman Glen Caplin declined to authenticate Band’s memo, telling the Post only that the information was “hacked by the Russian government and weaponized by WikiLeaks.”
In the memo, Band defends his practice of “leveraging” Teneo clients to contribute hundreds of thousands in donations to the charitable organization, or else increase preexisting contributions. These include $4.33 million from Coca-Cola between 2004-2010; $1.1 million from Barclays Capital between 2008-2011; and $4,276,841 from the Rockefeller Foundation between 2006-2010.
A statement from Teneo acknowledged that the firm urged clients to support the foundation.
“Teneo worked to encourage clients, where appropriate, to support the Clinton Foundation because of the good work that it does around the world,” the statement obtained by the Washington Post read. “It also clearly shows that Teneo never received any financial benefit or benefit of any kind from doing so.”
The memo and other emails hacked from longtime Clinton aide John Podesta, currently chairing Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, also purport to show how Band lobbied these same donors to provide personal financial opportunities for Bill Clinton. Companies including UBS, which donated $540,000 to the foundation between 2005-2011, invited Clinton to give paid speeches to employees.
The new WikiLeaks materials don’t implicate any of the Clintons in impropriety, and purported emails from Chelsea Clinton appear to shore up previous reporting that she played a key role in drawing attention to the negative optics of recruiting Teneo clients to donate to her family’s foundation.
In multiple emails, she asks her parents’ aides about Band’s efforts to secure money for his consulting firm, the foundation and her father simultaneously. In one, she writes of “explicit examples at CGI of Doug/Teneo pushing for—and receiving—free memberships” to the annual Clinton Global Initiative conference and of the consulting firm “hustling” businesses at the conference itself. Some of Band’s efforts, she warned in another email, would “horrify” Bill Clinton.
Chelsea Clinton also helped enlist an outside law firm to conduct the audit of the foundation’s finances that spurred Band’s memo. The lawyers conducting the audit concluded that the foundation should “ensure that all donors are properly vetted and that no inappropriate quid pro quos are offered to donors in return for contributions.”
Band resented what he saw as Chelsea Clinton’s efforts to go behind his back, saying she was “acting like a spoiled brat kid.”