Sunday, May 17, 2015

Canadian bank US probed multiple times for fraud paid up to $1M for Hillary Clinton speeches

The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce may only appear once on former State Secretary Hillary Clinton's mandatory financial disclosure form, but the 2016 US presidential candidate seems to have netted close to ten percent of her recent speech income from the bank which has a history of "often" being investigated for fraud by the US. Since campaign officials and organizers duck multiple media inquiries, it's hard to get the whole financial picture just from what has been publicly revealed. But it appears that the foreign bank paid close to $900,000 for Hillary Clinton speeches just in the last eight months alone.

"Hillary Clinton gave 51 paid speeches for a total of nearly $12 million since January 2014," Josh Gerstein and Louis Nelson reported for Politico.

However, four-to-five of those speeches appear to have been sponsored by the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC), and Clinton's fee also seemed to rise until she entered the presidential race.

Less than a year ago, Hillary Clinton was paid $150,000 for a speech in Toronto, Canada on June 16th and $100,000 for one in Edmonton two days later. Both events were handled by the two-man firm tinePublic - who have prospered booking many speeches by former US political leaders across Canada - including both President Bushes and Bill Clinton. Hillary Clinton earned $225,000 for a March speech handled by tinePublic in Calgary. Press accounts for both speeches in June only mentioned that they were to promote Hillary Clinton's book, "Hard Choices", and didn't mention any possible corporate sponsors.

But the Edmonton speech apparently included a moderated question-and-answer forum with Victor Dodig, who was Senior Executive Vice-President for CIBC, at the time. Not long after, in late July, Dodig was promoted to CEO and bank president.

And after an October 6, 2014 speech for a Canada 2020 event, Hillary Clinton did another "interview" with Dodig. But this earned Clinton more than double what she earned in Edmonton: $215,500. She earned $674,000 for three speeches sponsored by CIBC in 2015, but it's unclear if the bank also paid her $315,000 for the Edmonton and Ottawa sessions in 2014.

The Canada 2020 website placed CIBC first in a list of sponsors for the Ottawa speech at a "special" luncheon: "Join Canada 2020 for this special luncheon event featuring a keynote address from Secretary Clinton followed by an on-stage Q&A." And the photo credit for the picture of Dodig and Clinton - shown above - that it links to at Flicker, reads, "Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivered keynote remarks at a special Canada 2020 luncheon event sponsored by CIBC on Monday, October 6th 2014."

"Following her address in Ottawa Monday, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sat with CIBC CEO Victor Dodig for an informal interview," according to an October 6, 2014 report from Canada's iPOLITICS. "The two had met before in Edmonton, which Dodig reminisced on fondly."

Journalists following the Clinton 2016 presidential campaign as it travels across the US have complained that she went over three weeks without replying to questions from the press, but Dodig has essentially paid her for at least four "interviews" delivered to thousands of Canadians within the last year.

On Twitter, CNN political producer Dan Merica - who is currently covering the Clinton campaign - joked, "@cibc CEO Victor Dodig has interviewed Hillary Clinton 3x (Edmonton, Ottawa & Winnipeg) in the last yr. What U.S. news anchor can say that?"

In a Canadian newspaper article published in January called "Clinton Tickets Selling Fast" (which isn't currently readable on the internet), Andy McCreath of tinePublic Inc explained, "We did an event in June with Clinton in Edmonton and Toronto, and Victor was the moderator then and he was fantastic, so it was an easy decision" to do it again for the Winnipeg show this year.

January's speeches for the bank garnered some bad publicity for Hillary Clinton, before she officially entered the race, but media outlets noting the speeches didn't realize she may have earned double the amount that they estimated - since they didn't know about the January 22nd speech in Whistler and the bank's sponsorship of the Ottawa luncheon. Both the organizers and campaign officials ducked questions from multiple media outlets in Canada and the United States regarding details and fees.

"Clinton has given dozens of speeches since leaving office as Secretary of State, many for free and many drawing paychecks of as much as $200,000 to $300,000," McClatchy's Anita Kumar reported on January 19, 2015. "The Wednesday addresses could stand out, as they’ll be hosted by a foreign bank with a history of investigations by U.S. officials."
"In 2003, the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce settled a case with the Securities and Exchange Commission for $80 million for allegedly helping the Enron energy company mislead investors through a series of transactions over a period of several years, according to the SEC. At least two executives agreed to settle charges of aiding and abetting the fraud, paying a total of $600,000.

In 2005, CIBC settled another case with SEC for $125 million after it was accused of financing late trading to increase their customers' trading profits at the expense of long-term mutual fund shareholders, according to the SEC.

And again in 2005, the bank agreed to pay nearly a half million dollars to settle SEC allegations that it broke the law by underwriting municipal securities for the state of California after making campaign donations to six politicians, including former Democratic California Gov. Gray Davis, according to the SEC. Securities law forbids a corporate donor from doing municipal securities work for an issuer within two years of a contribution.
"Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce agreed yesterday to pay $2.4 billion to settle claims that it helped hide losses at the Enron Corporation, raising to $7.1 billion the sum that banks and other defendants have thus far agreed to pay to compensate investors," Jeff Bailey reported for The New York Times August 3, 2005. "The Enron lawsuit accused CIBC and other firms of creating false investments in elaborate and complex Enron partnerships that had the effect of deceiving investors and moving billions of dollars of debt off the company's balance sheet."

Even though it agreed to pay a few billion dollars, Bailey noted that "CIBC said it admitted no wrongdoing in the Enron matter, and that it had settled to avoid uncertainties of further litigation."

Reporting in 2009 for the Financial Post, John Greenwood wrote, "Four years after Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce paid a record $3-billion settlement to disentangle itself from Enron litigation, the spectre of the failed U.S. energy trader has come back to haunt Canada’s fifth-largest bank."

"CIBC disclosed Wednesday that it is preparing to go to court with the Canada Revenue Agency to defend its position that the settlement is tax-deductible," Greenwood noted. "If the bank wins it will recognize a tax benefit of $214-million, but if the government prevails CIBC could end up having to pay $826-million."

Another McClatchy article from January - "Hillary Clinton talks to be hosted by bank often investigated for wrongdoing" - noted, "Hillary Clinton, the presumed frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination, will give a pair of speeches on Wednesday in Canada hosted by a major bank that has been the subject of several investigations into wrongdoing over the past dozen years."

"Ms Clinton and the bank refused to say if she's being paid for the speeches," the story added. "But the appearances are all but certain to fuel complaints that she's too close to the corporate elites, especially coming a day after President Barack Obama's State of the Union speech focusing on the plight of the middle class and signs that several top Republicans also plan to make economic populism a centrepiece of their campaigns."
"More recently, it was hit with a series of class action lawsuits seeking $US4 billion over allegations that it did not adequately warn investors of its exposure to the US subprime market. In each case, even the ones in which CIBC settled, it denied any wrongdoing.

Clinton will speak in Winnipeg and Saskatoon as part of the Global Perspective speakers series sponsored by the Toronto-based bank with millions of clients and tens of thousands of employees. Tickets are being sold for the events that will be held in large arenas, at the RBC Winnipeg Convention Centre and the TCU Place.

CIBC and a Clinton spokesman did not respond to questions from McClatchy.
On January 20, 2015, Washington Free Beacon Staff noted, "Hillary Clinton will give two speeches Wednesday in Canada and is co-hosted by the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. The bank has recently come under investigation from the United States for helping wealthy Americans offshore money in the bank’s Caribbean accounts to avoid paying federal taxes."

"The Elizabeth Warren-supporting wing of the Democratic party has not been quiet in reminding people that Hillary Clinton has connections to Wall Street and big banks," the Free Beacon staff editorialized. "These poorly timed paid speeches will raise some eyebrows and show misgivings of Hillary Clinton’s connections."

CBS News reported, "Clinton's speaking engagements like this one have drawn attention because of the high fees she commands. Her twin speeches Wednesday, in particular, have been criticized because CIBC has reportedly been the subject of federal fraud investigations. And while Clinton has said that the cash collected goes to her foundation, some have still used Clinton's lucrative speaking tour to tie her to the wealthy elite."

"Organizers did not respond to a request for information about whether Clinton was paid to speak in Winnipeg and, later Wednesday, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan," the CBS News story about the two known speeches in January.

Last December CNN's Dan Merica reported, "Clinton's events in Canada have run the gamut, from speeches at high priced dinners to question and answer sessions in theaters. Most have been promoted and organized by TINEPUBLIC, a special events and conference organizer in Canada. CNN's calls to the group went unanswered on Monday."

Although its numbers were off, the conservative leaning complained in April, "Since leaving the State Department in January 2013, Hillary has given six paid speeches in Canada. At $200,000 to $300,000 a speech or more, that’s between, $1.2 million and $1.8 million of personal income courtesy of the Canadians."

MSNBC also reported in January that "Gordon Giffin, a longtime Clinton donor who served as ambassador to Canada under Bill Clinton, is on the board of directors of the CIBC, the bank sponsoring Clinton’s appearance, and has lobbied for the company hoping to build the Keystone pipeline."

"Giffin, who as a “Hillraiser” bundler for Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign and has donated $1,000 to the pro-Clinton super PAC Ready for Hillary, is a lawyer specializing in international energy issues. His firm was a registered lobbyist for Transcanada for several years, and Giffin personally lobbied for the company trying to build Keystone pipeline in 2007 and 2008, according to Senate ethics records. Transcanada did not fully takeover the Keystone pipeline until 2009.

Giffin is also on the board of Canadian Natural Resources, an energy company pushing for Keystone to be built. Also on that board with him is his former counterpart, Frank McKenna, a former Canadian ambassador to the U.S. who has moderated discussions with Clinton on previous visits to Canada.
"A post in Canada, our biggest trade partner, brings plenty of future earnings potential," Muckety reported in April of 2011. Former US Ambassador to Canada "Gordon D. Giffin, named to the job by President Bill Clinton, received more than $990,000 (Canadian) last year in cash, stock and other compensation for his work on four Canadian corporate boards." Five years ago, while living in Atlanta, GA, Giffin was "director of Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Canadian National Railway Company, TransAlta Corporation and Canadian Natural Resources Limited."

According to this Canadian Press article, around 2,000 people attended the Winnipeg speech Hillary Clinton gave - a day after President Obama's State of the Union address - and tickets sold for $300 each. "Tickets for Clinton's appearance in Saskatoon ranged from $96 to more than $300." The bank paid $524,500 for those speeches, and another $150,000 for one given in Whistler, Canada the day after on January 22, 2015, was for the bank itself, at the CIBC 18th Annual Whistler Institutional Investor Conference (link).

"Great afternoon with @CIBCEquities and @HillaryClinton talking social media & US/Canada ties at #CIBC2015Whistler," IntergulfGroup tweeted.

Dodig "interviewed" Clinton again, according to Quentin broad: "Meet & greet with @HillaryClinton followed by a speech & fireside chat with CIBC CEO Victor Dodig #cibcwhistler2015.

"I know it's been a busy schedule already. I said I'm extremely impressed with CIBC to bring in Hillary Clinton as a warm-up speaker for the uranium section is really kind of over the top. I thought so. Anyway, ...," Tim Gitzel, the president and CEO of Cameco Corporation, joked in an online transcript of a "fireside chat" with Tom Meyer - Executive Director, Institutional Equity Research, Base Metals & Minerals Analyst at CIBC - regarding the global uranium market held at 1:30 PM on January 22, 2015. (pdf link).

Later, in the transcript, Cameco CEO Gitzel references Hillary Clinton two more times, and he uses her words to pitch the case that uranium is the best option for foreign countries to power their electricity.
"So, you know, in countries—where are we seeing the growth? It's in countries, China, India, South Korea, Russia, countries with—Middle East now—big growing populations that need more electricity going forward, but they need large baseload electricity; electricity to run health care systems, transportation systems, education systems. I can tell you we're all for wind power. We love it. We love wind power and we love solar. You're not going to run a health system on solar power; not today you're not. You need backup power for that, and so what are your choices? You heard them from Hillary Clinton. I mean you've got coal. Some like, some don't like that. You've got oil; maybe, but not much electricity generated by oil anymore. Gas; gas is a big competitor for us in North America and you heard her, on a competitive basis, nuclear is—can't touch $2 gas. You've got hydro, and some like or don't like that. Try damming up a river up here somewhere and see how that goes over for you. So, you know, there's choices to be made. None of them are perfect. We think nuclear fits nice in Asia. We're spending a lot of our time now over in Asia with the Chinese, in South Korea. India's going to be a big market for us going forward. The Canadian government's been very helpful getting agreements in place that will allow us to ship our uranium into India, and if they can get coordinated with their build-out, it's going to be a big market as well."
2014-2015 Hillary Clinton speeches that appear to have been sponsored by CIBC:

tinePublic Inc. 6/18/2014 Edmonton, Canada $100,000

Canada 2020 10/6/2014 Ottawa, Canada $215,500

tinePublic Inc. 1/21/2015 Winnipeg, Canada $262,000

tinePublic Inc. 1/21/2015 Saskatoon, Canada $262,500

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce 1/22/2015 Whistler, Canada $150,000

Monday, April 13, 2015

2012 Teneo brochure touted Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin as Senior Adviser for firm

May 2nd correction: Chargé d'Affaires John Hennessey-Niland from the Dublin US Embassy met Hillary Clinton at airport, not Teneo CEO Declan Kelly (See photo description here). I've removed all references to that from this article.

In September of 2012, the world was under the impression that Huma Abedin was still Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's full-time Deputy Chief of Staff. But that June her job at the State Department furtively changed to part-time, and she became a Special Government Employee (S.G.E.) so that she could allegedly work from home at the pricey new Park Avenue condo - owned by a friend of the Clintons - she just moved into with her husband, former NY Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner, who infamously resigned in 2011 for lying about sexting. Abedin claims that she became a S.G.E. to take care of her baby, but she took on consulting jobs and went on at least one foreign trip with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as I exclusively reported last month (See Teneo worked on Belfast event honoring Hillary Clinton).

However, clients of Teneo - a firm co-founded by two Clinton associates - would've known that Abedin was wearing two hats as early as September 16, 2012.

A September 2012 Teneo brochure (pdf link) touts Huma Abedin as "Senior Leadership" for the firm, and her specific job title is listed as a "Senior Advisor". Longtime Clintons aide Justin Cooper - who registered the domain that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Huma Abedin secretly used to send and receive emails instead of official State Department accounts - is featured on the same page.

"Teneo's highly experienced and dedicated professions come from diverse backgrounds including investment banking, private equity, corporate finance and strategy, government, government affairs, communications, investor relations, media, and public policy," the brochure states.

Clients were told that Huma Abedin was a Senior Advisor for Teneo, but there doesn't appear to be any sign that Teneo ever noted it on its website, where the public and journalists would know that she was working for them while still at the State Department. The Weiners, Clintons and the State Department didn't inform the public or press that she was working for four clients at the same time: the State Department, Teneo, the Clinton Foundation and Hillary Clinton, herself. As I reported in 2013, Acting Deputy Spokesperson and Director of the Press Office Patrick Ventrell didn't correct a journalist who specifically referred to Huma Abedin as Hillary Clinton's Deputy Chief of Staff during a July 18th, 2012 press conference. I also reported how the Weiners and Clintons often inform the press about mistakes on their behalf, but they said nothing when The New York Times wrongly reported Abedin was still Hillary's Deputy Chief of Staff throughout 2012 in multiple articles. President Barack Obama defended Huma Abedin in an August 10, 2012 speech while she sat beside his podium. Obama said she worked "exhaustingly" at the State Department, but he also essentially kept her part-time status a secret.

On Sunday, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that she was running for president. But recent polls show that the emails controversy may haunt her, since she deleted over 30,000 emails without independent oversight, after the State Department asked her to turn them over, in part, because of a Congressional investigation of the Benghazi scandal.

Clinton's and Abedin's emails are also being sought by Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) who is probing Teneo and the SGE program. In addition, lawsuits by the Associated Press, Citizens United and Judicial Watch have been filed related to unfulfilled Freedom of Information Act requests from 2013 regarding Abedin's counseling for Teneo and the Clinton Foundation, while working at the State Department, too. Earlier today, Judicial Watch's Micah Morrison tweeted that my "upcoming articles could derail #Clinton2016".


See my previous stories for more details:

Questions linger about Clintons-linked firm co-founded by former US Economic Envoy to Northern Ireland

Staff employed by State Dept. as administrative support for Clinton envoy helped launch Teneo

Teneo worked on Belfast event honoring Hillary Clinton

State Secretary's last dinner in Dublin hosted by Clinton Foundation donor

Is Weiner planning to try and win back his old Congress seat?

State Dept. spokesman fielded question about Hillary Clinton Deputy Chief of Staff after Huma Abedin 'quietly' left position

Anthony Weiner company led by former board director for firm investors blasted as 'CROOKS'

Friends of Weiner may get hit with FEC audit or enforcement action

Weiner paid 'fund-raising whiz' $8K a month after he resigned .

(Hat tip to Huffington Post's Ryan Grim)

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

State Secretary's last dinner in Dublin hosted by Clinton Foundation donor

May 2nd correction: Chargé d'Affaires John Hennessey-Niland from the Dublin US Embassy met Hillary Clinton at airport, not Teneo CEO Declan Kelly (See photo description here). So I've deleted all references to that from this article.

May 1st update - Despite "ethics agreement" that a "former and future" Clinton Foundation director negotiated while at the State Department, Clinton Health Access Initiative kept Irish government's increase of funding a secret. Yesterday, Judicial Watch posted an article about my Teneo reporting. "Reporter Ron Brynaert is one example of this new breed of investigative gunslinger," Micah Morrison wrote. "A former executive editor for Raw Story, Brynaert has been digging deep into the Teneo connection and publishing his findings at his blog, '-gate news' and on Twitter."

April 28th update - After State Sec. Hillary Clinton announced "partnership" with Irish government in 2010, Irish Aid donated over $5 million to the Clinton Foundation from 2011 to 2014. More information added on State Department funding the Front Line Defenders - which was co-founded by Denis O'Brien - through a program created by Hillary Clinton when she was Secretary of State. Also, The Wall Street Journal reported a few days ago, "Irish billionaire Denis O’Brien, who heads a mobile-phone network provider called Digicel, won a $2.5 million award in 2011 from a program run by the State Department’s U.S. Agency for International Development to offer mobile money services in post-earthquake Haiti. Mr. O’Brien has given between $5 million and $10 million to the Clinton Foundation since its launch." However, WSJ reporters oddly claimed that it was "unclear" that donations were made when Clinton was at the State Department, and won't fully explain why they couldn't confirm what others have reported for years. O'Brien's media holding company, Communicorp Group Ltd, has also donated money to the Clinton Foundation.

A Digicel press release announced on June 23, 2011, "Digicel, the best value mobile operator in the Caribbean, Central America and the Pacific, has today been announced as one of the main partners with the U.S Department of State to support the Caribbean IdEA Marketplace." Digicel Group Chief Executive Officer Colm Delves posed with "U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at the launch of the Caribbean IdEA Marketplace at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Montego Bay, Jamaica," as seen in the photograph at the firm's website.

"CIM will be implemented in the context of the International diaspora Engagement Alliance (IdEA), which was launched by the U.S Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton, on May 17th in Washington DC at the Global Diaspora Forum Other partners include the Inter-American Development Bank and Scotiabank."
As I reported last week, Teneo CEO Declan Kelly - who helped raise at least $1,500,000 on behalf of "Irish-Americans for Hillary" for Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign - was on the Board of Directors for US Ireland Fund and his firm did public relations work for the Belfast fundraising event and may have helped fund, host or sponsor it. Huma Abedin still helped plan Clinton's trips while working for the State Department and Teneo from June of 2012 to February of 2013.

"I was very happy to be along with Hillary Clinton during her last visit to Ireland as Secretary of State, in December 2012," Niall O'Dowd wrote for Irish Central on June 11, 2014. "It was also on that the trip that I realized she was certain to run for president in 2016."

Along with Teneo co-founder Paul Keary, O'Dowd is a member of "Irish-Americans for Hillary" - the group behind Kelly's fundraisers. Declan Kelly first met Hillary Clinton when he had "arranged an introduction" through O'Dowd years ago "at an Irish America magazine event in New York."

"As she writes in her new book, 'Hard Choices,' where she reserves several pages for her Irish work, the place still has a strong hold on her," O'Dowd adds, before quoting Hillary Clinton reminiscing about the party held in Belfast to honor her and help raise funds for the Worldwide Ireland Fund.
"My final trip as Secretary of State in December 2012 brought me again to Northern Ireland, a place where people have worked hard and suffered much to leave their past conflicts behind.

At a luncheon in Belfast, happily surrounded by old friends and acquaintances, we reminisced about how far we’d come together.
Then O'Dowd continues, "There was lots of reminiscing the day before in Dublin too when about 12 of us old-time Hillary supporters sat with her in a Dublin restaurant at a dinner hosted by businessman Denis O’Brien."

Digicel Group Chairman and Founder Denis O'Brien is a telecom billionaire who has reportedly given millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation and was honored with a Clinton Global Citizen award just two months before Hillary's trip to Ireland. Former President Bill "Clinton and Mr O’Brien formed a close working relationship in Haiti where the former acted as UN special envoy, and where Digicel has become the country’s largest foreign investor ever – pumping $600 million (€443 million) into an economy devastated by the 2010 earthquake," Irish Times reported in October of 2013.

However, as Kevin Sullivan, Rosalind S. Helderman and Tom Hamburger reported for The Washington Post a few weeks ago, O'Brien and "the Clintons are facing a growing backlash that too little has been accomplished in the past five years and that some of the most high-profile projects they have backed — including a just-opened Marriott, another luxury hotel and the industrial park — have helped foreign investors and Haiti’s wealthy elites more than its poor."

O'Brien is also the chairman of Front Line Defenders, which "was founded in Dublin in 2001 with the specific aim of protecting Human Rights Defenders, people working in hostile conditions to uphold any or all of the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)." In February of 2012, founder Mary Lawlor noted that the Embattled NGO Assistance Fund "is the brainchild of Hillary Clinton" and that they get money from the US State Department and O'Brien gave them €3 million when she started the group.

A 2013 press release by the Front Line Defenders referred to O'Brien as "Chairman and co-founder", and he is still on the Board of Trustees. His biography at its website states, "Denis O'Brien is Chairman of the Digicel Group, one of the fastest growing cellular companies in the world. Mr. O’Brien is one of Ireland’s leading entrepreneurs with extensive investments across several sectors including international telecoms, radio, media, property, aircraft leasing, golf and other leisure interests. He founded the Communicorp Group which has a portfolio of media and broadcasting-related companies in Ireland and seven other European countries. Denis was Chairman of the 2003 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Ireland and is Chairman of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year. He is on the US Board of Concern Worldwide. In 2000 he established The O’Brien Foundation to assist disadvantaged communities in Ireland and internationally."

The US State Department announced on July 1, 2011, "Last July at the Community of Democracies meeting in Krakow, Secretary Clinton announced that the United States would create an international fund to support embattled Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and invited like-minded governments to join in this global effort."

"One year later, the Department of State, together with twelve other democratic nations spanning the globe, launched the Lifeline: Embattled NGOs Assistance Fund in a meeting in Vilnius with the international consortium of organizations who will be implementing the Fund’s activities.

The Department of State is honored to partner with Australia, Benin, Canada, Chile, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom in this unique effort to protect and support civil society worldwide. Together they have seeded the Lifeline Fund with over $4 million to begin a multi-year effort."
Hours before the dinner hosted by O'Brien, Secretary of State Clinton said in a speech, "We currently are providing emergency support to dozens of individual human rights activists around the world, who run into trouble because of their work. And the United States has created a fund – to which more than a dozen governments and two private foundations have contributed – to support embattled NGOs with legal representation, communication technologies like cell phones and internet access, and other forms of quick support."

According to the latest entry of "Front Line Defenders Annual Reports & Financial Information", it still receives donations from the Lifeline: Embattled NGO Assistance Fund. It also is supported by The Ireland Funds, which is a client of Teneo, and CEO Declan Kelly was on its Board of Directors when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was honored at a Belfast luncheon the day after the Dublin dinner, as I reported in March.

Front Line Defenders also receives funding from the Ireland government department Irish Aid, which has donated $5-to-10 million to the Clinton Foundation. On September 21, 2010, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke at an event called "1,000 Days: Change a Life, Change the Future" where she welcomed Ireland Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheal Martin.

"Thank you, Secretary Clinton, for those kind words about the Irish, but also for your inspiring words about the challenge that lies ahead and that is the focal point of this gathering here this morning," Michael Martin said. "And we thank your people who have worked so hard behind the scenes with Irish Aid and with my colleague, Minister Power, Peter Power, Minister of State Peter Power, in terms of the organization of this partnership with its focus on undernutrition."

A US State Department fact sheet on the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Framework, announced that Clinton and Martin would be "joined by leaders from governments, international organizations, civil society and the private sector" at the September 21st, 2010 event.

At The Irish Times, Simon Carswell reported on April 24, 2015 about the money donated to the Clinton Foundation: "The Department of Foreign Affairs said this money was provided to the Clinton Health Access Initiative, a charity affiliated with the foundation, for work on health promotion projects in Mozambique (€1 million) and Lesotho (€4 million) between 2011 and 2014. A further €170 million of Irish Aid went to the health ministries in those countries on projects that involved personnel from the Clintons’ health charity.

Despite agreeing in 2008 that the Clinton Foundation would inform the State Department if a foreign country chose to "increase materially its commitment" to the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), it didn't. As revealed in a 2010 Irish government review of the partnership, the funding was supposed to end that year, but Irish Aid "recommend[ed] that the Partnership should be formally extended until 2015."

Last week, Irish Aid told the Irish Times that it ended up donating €4 million to CHAI from 2011 to 2015 for "work on health promotion projects" in Lesotho. A March 6, 2012 fact sheet at the US State Department's website notes, "A partnership framework that is aligned with the National Strategic Plan was signed in August 2009 by the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Government of Lesotho."

But even though referring to Irish Aid, the US State Department "fact sheet" doesn't specifically mention its partnership with the Clinton Foundation which began years before Obama was elected: "The donor community is collaborating with the Government of Lesotho in a massive effort to address the HIV epidemic. Key international stakeholders include PEPFAR, UN agencies, Irish AID, other international donors, and dozens of non-governmental organizations."

On March 19, 2015, Jonathan Allen reported for Reuters, "In 2008, Hillary Clinton promised Barack Obama, the president-elect, there would be no mystery about who was giving money to her family's globe-circling charities. She made a pledge to publish all the donors on an annual basis to ease concerns that as secretary of state she could be vulnerable to accusations of foreign influence."

"At the outset, the Clinton Foundation did indeed publish what they said was a complete list of the names of more than 200,000 donors and has continued to update it," Allen continued. "But in a breach of the pledge, the charity's flagship health program, which spends more than all of the other foundation initiatives put together, stopped making the annual disclosure in 2010, Reuters has found."

Allen added, "In response to questions from Reuters, officials at the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) and the foundation confirmed no complete list of donors to the Clintons' charities has been published since 2010. CHAI was spun off as a separate legal entity that year, but the officials acknowledged it still remains subject to the same disclosure agreement as the foundation."

"The State Department said it was unable to cite any instances of its officials reviewing or approving new money from any foreign governments [which included Ireland]," Reuters' Allen reported. "[CHAI spokeswoman Maura] Daley confirmed that none of the seven government donations had been submitted to the State Department for review."

Reporting for the Washington Examiner on April 30, 2015 about how the State Department is allowing the Clinton Foundation to review which Clinton emails can be released to fulfill reportedly 18 FOIA requests by the media and conservative-leaning watchdog groups, Sarah Westwood noted, "Like several other records caches that have been dribbled out of the department in recent months, the emails showed Cheryl Mills — the former Clinton White House aide who left the family foundation to serve as Hillary Clinton's chief of staff at State before returning to the charity's board — was routinely involved in official matters concerning both the foundation and the former chief executive's paid speeches."

"Mills was among several Clinton insiders who negotiated an ethics agreement between Hillary Clinton and President Obama before Clinton was appointed secretary of state," Westwood reported. "The agreement required both the Clintons and their foundation to undergo ethics reviews so State Department officials could determine whether a particular speech or event represented a real or apparent conflict of interest."

Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton "raised concerns that a former and future foundation director was instrumental to orchestrating the legal footwork that allowed the Clintons to receive millions of dollars for speaking from foreign entities while Hillary Clinton served as the nation's chief diplomat." Fitton complained to the Washington Examiner, "There's no way [Mills] should have been involved in this, given where she was and where she was going."
"He noted that it's possible Mills, as a top Clinton Foundation official, is presently involved in reviewing the emails she herself wrote and was copied on during her time at the State Department, thanks to the agency's unusual arrangement with the charity.

A State Department official who requested anonymity was 'not in a position to comment on ongoing litigation' but noted that FOIA 'provides an exemption for privileged or confidential trade secrets.'

'When the department receives a FOIA request for records which contain privileged or confidential commercial or financial information and determines that it may release them, we are obligated by law to consult with the entities or persons who first provided those records to the Department, and it is our practice to do so,' the official said.
Whatever reasons or excuses provided by Obama's State Department before, during and after Hillary Clinton's tenure as Secretary of State, one might conclude that the Irish government was being more forthcoming than the US government and the Clinton Foundation.

On April 17, 2015, at the Wall Street Journal, James V. Grimaldi reported, "Potentially any foreign government could make multimillion-dollar donations to the Clinton family’s largest philanthropic venture, a global public-health charity, according to a new policy put in place this week." Defending this new move, "Officials of the Clinton health charity, which employs 1,500 workers in more than 30 countries, said the more lenient policy came because 'foreign governments are among the largest funders of global health programs.'"

"Mr. O’Brien has given between $5 million and $10 million to the Clinton Foundation since its launch," James V. Grimaldi, Rebecca Ballhaus and Peter Nicholas reported for The Wall Street Journal on April 22, 2015. "It is unclear whether Mr. O’Brien gave while Mrs. Clinton was at the State Department because of the way the foundation discloses its donations."

When Hillary Clinton became Secretary of State, the Clinton Foundation agreed to list its contributor amounts annually on the internet, so it's breathtaking that the Wall Street Journal hasn't been at least copy-and-pasting that information once a year. Unfortunately, the way the Clinton Foundation website was set up, it's difficult to find archive links for contributors in previous years, except for the highest donors. However, simple Google searches of news organizations and blogs that did at least copy-and-paste the data reveal that Denis J. O'Brien's donations to the Clinton Foundation went from zero in December of 2008 (according to Fox News) to $10,001-to-25,000 before January of 2012 (according to The New York Times) and $1M to $5M (according to a blog reporting on a defamation lawsuit by Denis O'Brien against his first cousin Donald MacAllister who claimed in November of 2012 the billionaire was the "largest contributor to the Clinton Foundation". Interestingly, O'Brien ducked that specific accusation, even though it appears to conflict with what the Clinton Foundation has claimed.) during Hillary Clinton's tenure as Secretary of State.

"[Digicel]'s founder, Denis O'Brien, is a major Clinton Foundation contributor and chairman of the Clinton Global Initiative's Haiti Action Network, a consortium of largely private-sector partners who have committed more than $224 million to reconstruction projects," Janet Reitman reported for Rolling Stone in August of 2011.

At, in an article quoting from a Fox News Channel special based on the soon-to-be-published Peter Schweizer book "Clinton Cash" (which the Wall Street Journal based their story on, too), Ian Hanchett noted, "Schweizer said, 'shortly after the Clintons began reconstruction in Haiti, and began handing out contracts, sometime during that period of 2010 or 2011 he [Digicel’s owner Denis O’Brien] made a multi-million dollar contribution to the Clinton Foundation.' And that O’Brien also arranged for three 'lucrative' speeches by Bill Clinton...Schweizer then reported, 'two of the speeches that Bill Clinton gives, actually, are sandwiched around Digicel being given a grant, by the taxpayers for $100,000 as part of the HMMI Award. At the same time, you have taxpayer money, $2 million being committed to the Digicel Foundation in Jamaica.'"

Grimaldi, Ballhaus, and Nicholas specifically noted that they couldn't reach Mr. O'Brien and that the Clinton campaign "didn't respond to request for comment", but that they did talk to a Clinton Foundation spokesman. It's unclear why the Wall Street Journal didn't specifically ask the Clinton Foundation to provide this information which they already provided once a year on the web or why it didn't contact any groups that monitor politically-related donations before publishing their story. All three Wall Street Journal reporters have ignored tweets regarding why they reported that it was "unclear" that Denis O'Brien donated to the Clinton Foundation, while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State.

O'Brien also owns many Irish media outlets - and according to a 2012 Guardian article was the "largest shareholder with a 29.9% stake" in Independent News and Media (INM) - has been accused of possessing a "stranglehold" in an "attempt to silence his critics." The Irish Times reported in December, "Recently, the National Union of Journalists called on [the Irish government's Department of Communications] to 'call a halt' to what it saw as O’Brien’s threat to media diversity."

Communicorp Group Limited, "a media holding company, founded in 1989 by Irish Entrepreneur Denis O’Brien" whose "media holdings include radio stations and digital media service companies", has also donated $10,000 to 25,000 to the Clinton Foundation. According to this 2012 haiti week press release, "Lucy Gaffney of Communicorp" was an "Irish member" of the Clinton Global Initiative. Communicorp Group Limited Chairperson Lucy Gaffney is a longtime friend and associate of O'Brien, and is on Digicel's Board of Directors and "was appointed to the Board of Independent News & Media plc as a Non-Executive Director in March 2009."

On September 30, 2010, former President Bill Clinton gave a speech at the Business & Finance Outstanding Contribution to Ireland Awards in honor of Loretta Brennan Glucksman and the American Ireland Fund. In the following video, Clinton thanks Declan Kelly (who was on the US Ireland Fund's board of directors until at least 2012 and created the US-NI Mentorship Program with it - in partnership with the State Department - after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appointed him Economic Envoy to Northern Ireland) and Denis O'Brien - who are seated onstage together - for their introductions:

"Thank you very much first to Declan and then to Denis for telling all those lies about me," Clinton joked. "I want to thank Declan Kelly who has done a really wonderful job as the Secretary of State's envoy to Northern Ireland. Hillary always did have good taste in men."

O'Brien was also in the audience when Hillary Clinton gave a speech at Dublin City University during her Ireland trip, the Irish Independent reported.

While working for Teneo and the State Department, Huma Abedin also did consulting work for the Clinton Foundation.

So, in this last Ireland trip that Abedin probably planned for the outgoing Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton attended a luncheon tied to Teneo and a dinner hosted by a top Clinton Foundation donor where she dined with fundraisers. There must have been some sort of prior planning involved by Teneo and O'Brien for both events to accommodate Clinton's schedule, although the thrust of her trip apparently was to "participate in the ministerial meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)" to "discuss proposals to strengthen the OSCE’s capacity to promote comprehensive security in Eurasia, as well as meet with civil society representatives from across the OSCE region." The Belfast luncheon was held in the ballroom of a top tourist attraction, and may have been planned months in advance before it was officially announced one day apart by the State Department and a Teneo press release in November of 2012.

However - as I reported a few weeks ago - Abedin wrote to Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), "I was not asked, nor did I undertake, any work on Teneo's behalf before the State Department (and I should note that it is my understanding that Teneo does not conduct business with the Department of State). I also was not asked, nor did I provide, insights about the Department, my work with the Secretary, or any government information to which I may have had access. And, I certainly 'never gathered information from government sources for the purpose of informing investment decisions of Teneo's clients' as the Senate letter suggests."

O'Dowd's article added, "In the small private dinner setting just off Stephen’s Green in Dublin she made clear that the fire still burns. The affection for Ireland and the desire to serve again was very clear that night. 'She’s running,' said one of her longest-term supporters and friends that night 'bet on it.' She went around the table asking each of us for our memories from our Clinton campaign involvements."

"It is unclear what special knowledge or skills Ms. Abedin possessed that the government could not have easily obtained otherwise from regular government employees," Senator Grassley wrote Inspector General for the US Department of State Steve Linick on March 19, 2015 (pdf link).

Senator Grassley also asked Secretary of State John Kerry on March 19, 2015 (pdf link), "Did the Department consider any other candidates besides Ms. Abedin for the expert position requiring expert knowledge on policy, administrative, and other matters? If so, please provide the supporting documentation. If not, why not?"

"Please provide the work papers, background documents, and/or emails that concluded that Ms. Abedin’s employment as an SGE did not present any ethical concerns or conflicts of interest with her multiple private sector jobs," Grassley added in his letter to Kerry.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's last trip to Ireland seems to have been geared towards meeting up with potential fundraisers presuming she runs for president again in 2016, and her longtime aide Huma Abedin may have helped schedule it while working for the State Department.

Last month Anita Kumar reported for McClatchy, "More than 40 percent of the top donors to the Clinton family foundation are based in foreign countries, which could lead to conflict-of-interest questions for Hillary Clinton as she prepares to launch her campaign for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination."

"Mohammed Al-Amoudi, a billionaire businessman who lives in Ethiopia and Saudi Arabia, retired German race car driver Michael Schumacher, and Denis O’Brien, the Irish chairman of Digicel phone company, each donated between $5 million and $10 million," Kumar added.

The Ireland trip was Clinton's "final overseas trip as secretary of state. She had planned further trips but canceled them after falling and hitting her head after returning from Dublin and Belfast," Anne Gearan reported for The Washington Post on March 16, 2015. Gearan also noted that Niall O’Dowd - the co-founder of Irish America Magazine which gave Clinton a lifetime achievement award last month - "is a longtime Democratic donor and served on Hillary Clinton’s 2008 finance committee." New York Times reporter Amy Chozick neglected to mention that in her March 17, 2015 article, although she did refer to O'Dowd as a "longtime Clinton supporter." In her February 2, 2015 article, Chozick didn't even reveal that much to New York Times readers.

Last September, in an interview with Denis O'Brien, Niall O'Dowd asked, "Speaking of politicians, you are a big fan of Hillary Clinton. Do you think she is going to run for the White House in 2016?

"I’d say she is going to see what the lay of the land is, like any clever politician, to see who’s there on the Democratic side," O'Brien responded. "I think a year out from the primaries last time, not a lot of people had heard of Obama and never saw him as a serious candidate, so obviously she is waiting to see who’s there. And yes, I am a fan."

See also "Teneo worked on Belfast event honoring Hillary Clinton"; "Staff employed by State Dept. as administrative support for Clinton envoy helped launch Teneo" and "Questions linger about Clintons-linked firm co-founded by former US Economic Envoy to Northern Ireland".

Developing... More to come...

Monday, March 23, 2015

Teneo worked on Belfast event honoring Hillary Clinton

May 2nd correction: Chargé d'Affaires John Hennessey-Niland from the Dublin US Embassy met Hillary Clinton at the airport, not Teneo CEO Declan Kelly (see photo description here), so I've removed the picture, video and references to that from this article.

April 22nd updates: In January, Teneo and American Ireland Funds sponsored "The Best of Ireland Gala" at the New York Athletic Club "to benefit The Children’s Medical Research Foundation and [Teneo Sports client Graeme McDowell's] GMac Foundation." Teneo CEO Declan Kelly - who was on the Board of Directors for American Ireland Funds (part of the Worldwide Ireland Funds) when they held Belfast luncheon for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2012 - was the "Dinner Chairman" for the January 12th, 2015 event which honored New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning and former Coca-Cola Refreshments President Brian Kelley - a Clinton Foundation donor who is now CEO for Clinton Global Initiative partner Green Mountain Coffee.

Teneo co-founder Paul Keary was on the Dinner Committee for a 2011 Ireland Funds event honoring Muhammad Ali and Irial Finian, the Executive Vice President for Clinton Foundation donor and Teneo client The Coca-Cola Company. Teneo Sports also currently represents NBA superstars Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Michael Jordan, and may have been hoping to land Eli Manning and Muhammad Ali as clients.

2010 US Open golf champion Graeme McDowell reportedly attended a February 15th, 2011 fundraiser for CMRF; Kelly was Chairman of the Dinner Committee "which is responsible for the fundraising efforts" and Bill Clinton was honorary chairman. At the January 12th, 2015 event, McDowell interviewed Manning. "Teneo is proud to partner with champion golfer Graeme McDowell in a variety of ways," the firm's website states. "We are a primary sponsor of Graeme on the U.S. and European PGA Tours." Essentially, Teneo sponsors Graeme McDowell, who is also a client, and helps raise money for his charity. In February of 2013, The Ireland Independent reported, "The Irishman's long-standing relationship with blue chip brands like Mastercard, BMW, RBC, Verizon, Ecco, Audermars Piguet, Teneo and, of course, Srixon, place him in the upper echelons of golf's corporate pecking order, behind only the big three of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy." On June 30, 2013, McDowell tweeted, "Landed in NYC to play some golf with #Verizon and #Teneo." According to, McDowell has an estimated net worth of $30 million.

On April 30, 2014, Teneo sponsored an Awards Dinner honoring Roger W. Ferguson, Jr., President & CEO of TIAA-CREF; Bess Joffe, Managing Director of Corporate Governance for TIAA-CREF, is a member of Declan Kelly's SDX (Shareholder-Director Exchange) Working Group and TIAA-CREF donated $100,000 to $250,000 to the Clinton Foundation.

April 9th update: State Department official invited Teneo CEO Declan Kelly and other fundraisers who raised millions for Hillary Clinton to accompany Secretary of State on her 2012 trip to Ireland

Former Sec. of State received Lifetime Achievement Award at same time her aide Huma Abedin worked for Teneo and State Dept.; Huma Abedin's State Department "services included advising and participating in planning for the Secretary's schedule and travel"

On November 29, 2012, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland announced that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton "will travel to Belfast, Northern Ireland, December 7, where she will meet with Northern Ireland officials and discuss the peace process, the trilateral US-Ireland Research and Development Partnership and economic opportunities for Northern Ireland."

"She will attend an event hosted by The Ireland Funds - - a global fundraising network supporting programs of peace and reconciliation, arts and culture, education, and community development in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland," Nuland added.

The next day, on November 30, 2012, the Worldwide Ireland Funds issued a press release to say they "would host a luncheon in her honour" on December 7th - "in Belfast’s iconic Titanic Signature Building" - so that she can be presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

"Several hundred guests will attend the event including First Minister Peter Robinson, deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and former Special Economic Envoy for Northern Ireland, Declan Kelly, who was appointed by Mrs. Clinton," the press release added.

Kelly became the only US economic envoy just weeks after Irish American Democrats leader Stella O'Leary wrote for Irish Central that "Irish Americans raised millions for the election bid of Senator Clinton for the Presidency. One of our own, Declan Kelly, was at the very top of Senator Clinton's list of fundraisers."

On November 19 2008, Ireland Abroad noted just as news broke out that Hillary Clinton was a leading candidate to become Secretary of State, she had "an Irish fundraiser arranged for this weekend organized by Declan Kelly of FTI, the global business advisory firm." In November of 2007, $300,000 was raised for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign at a "$2,300-a-head" event held in Limerick, organized by Declan Kelly "on behalf of Irish-Americans for Hillary", which featured former President Bill Clinton as the guest of honor. Before both events, Irish Abroad reported, "Kelly, a native of Tipperary, has emerged as one of Clinton’s leading fundraisers, having hosted a number of Irish American parties throughout the U.S. in the past year which have topped up the Clinton campaign coffers by $1 million." Half of that million came from two parties in New York and San Francisco organized by Kelly in April of 2007.

Declan Kelly reportedly raised at least $1,500,000 for Senator Hillary Clinton in five fundraisers from 2007 to 2008. All the events were held on behalf of a group called "Irish-Americans for Hillary", and one of the other two co-founders of Teneo Holdings, future Chief Operating Officer Paul Keary, was also a member, the Irish Independent noted on November 16, 2007. Keary is "Kelly's long time colleague and friend from FTI Consulting and Financial Dynamics", and "Kelly, who served as an advisor to Hillary Clinton when she ran for President, led the buy-out of Financial Dynamics in 2003 and in 2006 sold it to FTI Consulting for $340m, still the largest price ever paid for a communications consulting company." While Teneo wasn't officially launched until 2011, the firm and website were registered in 2009, two months after the envoy appointment, as I reported.

Teneo's third founder Douglas Band used to be President Bill Clinton's "body man", and James O'Shea reported for Irish Central in 2011, Kelly and Band were "known to be close friends who have known each other for almost two decades." When Band first "joined the Clinton White House in the fall of 1995", he worked "as an unpaid intern" for deputy White House Counsel Cheryl Mills, who later became Counselor and Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Band "created and built the Clinton Global Initiative that to date has raised over 63 billion dollars for nearly 2,000 philanthropic initiatives around the world which in total has impacted over 300 million people in 180 countries." The uncredited Irish Independent article also claimed, "All of the ["Irish-Americans for Hillary"] organisers have been supporters of the Clintons from before Bill's presidential victory in 1992."

After resigning as envoy in 2011, Kelly co-founded Teneo - "a global advisory firm that partners exclusively with the CEOs and senior leaders of many of the world’s largest and most complex companies and organizations. The firm is focused on working with clients to address a wide range of financial, reputational and transformational challenges and opportunities by combining the disciplines of strategic communications, investor relations, investment banking, financial analytics, executive recruiting, digital analytics, corporate governance, government affairs, business intelligence, management consulting and corporate restructuring on an integrated basis. Teneo’s clients include the CEOs of many Fortune 100 companies across a diverse range of industry sectors."

"Aside from his business interests, Mr Kelly serves on the boards of several philanthropic and community-based organisations which focus on Irish issues, including the American Ireland Fund," the BBC reported in September 2009. Thurles also noted, at the time, that he "serves in an advisory capacity to the Board of Directors of the American Ireland Fund." And Kelly was listed as "Chairman, Board of Directors, American Ireland Fund" on the St. Patrick's Day Obama White House guest list Lynn Sweet published on March 17, 2009. This archived link reveals Teneo CEO Declan Kelly was still on the American Ireland Fund Board of Directors during State Secretary Clinton's visit.

At the bottom of the Worldwide Ireland Funds press release for the luncheon held in Clinton's honor, Brendan Murphy from Teneo Strategy is listed as a reference, and his firm email address and phone number are provided for contact info. According to the biography at his firm's website, Murphy is now the Senior Vice President for Teneo Strategy, and he "specializes in counseling management teams on corporate strategy, communications, government affairs and crisis management." Murphy also handles public relations for Liberty Insurance. While this would indicate that Teneo did public relations for the event, it may also mean that they sponsored it.

(Editor's Note: A week after this article was published, the Irish Independent reported that Teneo's "Irish clients include Liberty Insurance and the Ireland Funds.")

Another press release viewable on The Ireland Funds website issued on December 7, 2012 lists Brendan Murphy and Teneo Strategy as a reference. It claimed that "500 guests from all sides of the community in Northern Ireland as well as business, civic, community and cultural leaders" attended the event and that Clinton was awarded with "a specially commissioned Belleek China piece."

"The award presented to Secretary of State Clinton was a unique piece of Belleek China from Fermanagh in Northern Ireland. The one-off piece symbolically showed a basket of flowers from Northern Ireland as well as flowers from the Secretary’s home state of Illinois and other symbols of Northern Ireland."
"This was the Secretary of State’s 7th visit to Northern Ireland and was part of her last foreign mission in that role," the press release presumably written by Teneo Strategy announced.

A transcript at the U.S. State Department website quotes Clinton at the luncheon saying, "And I, too, will acknowledge and thank our former Economic Envoy Declan Kelly who has done so much to help bring more investors to the region, and I thank you for your contributions, Declan."

One of the photographs from the luncheon at The Ireland Funds website shows longtime aide Huma Abedin sitting at a table behind Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:

An article by Irish American Magazine co-founder Niall O'Dowd - who was on Clinton's 2008 financial committee - notes that Huma Abedin accompanied Hillary on her last trip to Ireland as Secretary of State.
"Everyone agrees [Hillary Clinton] looks tired, puffy around the eyes, in need of a break. She admits so herself. She has traveled over a million miles and to 112 countries. She has lived on a plane. Her aide Huma Abedin says it is all like a blur these days."
An essay published at Irish Central on December 9, 2012 called "Hillary's Choice -- a run for glory or a quiet retirement after Secretary of State? Irish trip provided vital clues as to her intentions for 2016" by Niall O'Dowd about a dinner - I reported on last month - that was hosted by billionaire Denis O'Brien (who has donated millions of dollars to Clinton Foundation projects) for Clinton and Irish-American fundraisers states, "Hillary wasn’t saying on Thursday night what her plans were but her tireless aide Huma Abedin did pipe up and say 'vacation' when the question was raised on about what she would do next."

Although it wasn't revealed until 2013, Huma Abedin stepped down as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's deputy chief of staff in June of 2012 and did consulting work for Teneo while still working for the State Department as a Special Government Employee. A lawsuit recently announced by the Associated Press (link), seeks emails from Clinton and Abedin that weren't released by the State Department in previous Freedom of Information Action requests, apparently because they were using the private server instead of government-provided email accounts.

The lawsuit explains, "AP seeks these records to shed light on the official actions of Secretary Clinton and Ms. Abedin, a longtime aide to Secretary Clinton and high-ranking government official in her own right. The records sought by Request B are necessary for the public’s understanding of the intertwined relationships among Secretary Clinton, Ms. Abedin and Teneo, a consulting firm founded by Douglas Band, a longtime aide and advisor to former President Bill Clinton. Ms. Abedin reportedly worked for Teneo at the same time she worked as a Special Government Employee for the State Department. [AP journalist Stephen] Braun explained in his request: 'These records pertain to a key aide to Secretary Clinton whose SGE role at State has come under question in recent weeks and is the subject of Congressional inquiry. The records pertaining to the hiring of a long-time aide of a former secretary of state who has run in the past for the presidency of the United States and is considering another presidential campaign is a matter of current exigency to the American public."

In his June 13, 2013 request to the State Department (pdf link), Senator Chuck Grassley sought "all documents and/or communications between the Department of State and Teneo, and any client or entities they represent," which would have to include Bill Clinton, since along with being a paid adviser and an unpaid adviser for the firm, he was also a Teneo client.

A month-and-a-half later, the Washington Post reported, "The top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee said Thursday that the State Department and Huma Abedin, the wife of former congressman Anthony Weiner, have put up 'a stone wall' in the face of his inquiry about her final months at the agency, and vowed to continue raising questions about Abedin's employment status."

"'So far, the State Department and Ms. Abedin haven’t provided a single document that I requested,' Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) said in a statement. 'Putting up a stone wall raises a lot more questions about how the program is being used than it answers. I intend to pursue more complete answers to my questions.'"
"Abedin said her work at Teneo involved 'providing strategic advice and consulting services to the firm's management team' and helping to organize an annual event," the Post reported about her response (pdf link). "Abedin said her work there did not involve the State Department."

Abedin wrote, "I was not asked, nor did I undertake, any work on Teneo's behalf before the State Department (and I should note that it is my understanding that Teneo does not conduct business with the Department of State). I also was not asked, nor did I provide, insights about the Department, my work with the Secretary, or any government information to which I may have had access. And, I certainly 'never gathered information from government sources for the purpose of informing investment decisions of Teneo's clients' as the Senate letter suggests."

In May of 2013, Politico reported, "Her work for Teneo, which was founded by Band and a former aide to Tony Blair, was advisory, and among the projects was planning a major specific event where the former British prime minister and Bill Clinton both spoke, the friend said." That "major specific event" may have been - as the Economic reported in August of 2012 - in São Paulo on August 28th, when Blair, Clinton and former Brazil President Fernando Henrique Cardoso spoke at an event run by Itaú BBA, a Brazilian investment bank. "Ilan Goldfajn, the bank's chief economist, moderated a discussion that touched on foreign views of Brazil and Brazilian views of abroad—and what the developed world could learn about handling financial crises from a country that has suffered more than its fair share of them in the past, but is coming through the most recent one much better than most."

"Her services included advising and participating in planning for the Secretary's schedule and travel", Thomas B. Gibbons, the Acting Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs wrote Senator Grassley on July 17, 2013 (pdf link), in regards to "Huma Abedin's tenure at the Department of State", while working as a "senior adviser/expert, for which she was compensated at the hourly rate of a GS-15/10 and was designated as a Special Government Employee (SGE)." Before stepping down as one of Clinton's two Deputy Chiefs of Staff on June 3, 2012, Abedin "advised the Secretary and supervised the operations of her schedule and travel," but it's unclear if someone else took over the "supervision" role.

It's uncertain whether Abedin assisted Teneo or specifically helped coordinate - with Brendan Murphy or other associates at the firm - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's appearance at the luncheon, but their emails on the matter might help shed some light on any involvement, which might be at odds with what Huma wrote in response to Grassley's inquiries. Abedin claimed she "was not asked, nor did I undertake, any work on Teneo's behalf before the Department."

Huma Abedin worked for the State Department, Teneo, the Clinton Foundation and Hillary Clinton - personally - in December of 2012, so she essentially spent time on that December of 2012 Irish trip with all four of her bosses.

A few weeks after Abedin was hired by Teneo in June of 2012, Irish Central reported that Kelly helped "deliver the former American president Bill Clinton to the Worldwide Ireland Fund dinner in Cork where he will oversee the Clinton schedule for the weekend." It also noted that the Cork dinner would "be the fourth time in a little over a year that the president will come to Ireland at the behest of Kelly."

While serving as U.S. Economic Envoy to Northern Ireland, Declan Kelly helped set up the US-NI Mentorship Program with the Worldwide Ireland Fund, and a 2010 participant who "also developed and successfully launched" its website "was fortunate enough to be invited" to the December 7, 2012 luncheon honoring Hillary Clinton. According to the menu, the food was seasoned with Guinness, Bushmills and Kilbeggan whiskey, and Titanic cabin biscuits were included with the meal.

State Department official invited Teneo CEO and other fundraisers to Ireland

Perhaps escaping US media attention in late 2012, Clinton supporter Niall O'Dowd's website revealed that a State Department official invited Teneo CEO Declan Kelly and other Irish-American fundraisers to accompany Hillary Clinton on what would end up being her last foreign trip as Secretary of State.

"Invitations have gone out from her top political aide Kris Balderston to key members of her fundraising and support group in the Irish American community to accompany her to Ireland," Irish Central reported a few days before Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's plane touched down at Dublin Airport on December 5, 2012. "It is the first time since Clinton became Secretary of State that there has been an effort to reunite her old coterie of Irish advisors."

Irish Central's Kate Hickey adds, "Among those invited are head of Irish American Democrats Stella O’Leary, former U.S Economic Envoy Declan Kelly, businessman John FitzPatrick, top lawyer Brian O’Dwyer, former Congressman Bruce Morrison, Irish Voice Founder Niall O’Dowd, and other key members of her Irish circle. Collectively the group raised millions for Hillary during her runs for U.S. Senate and president and several were on her main finance committee."

"They will accompany her to her human rights speech at Dublin City University and her visit to Belfast on Friday where she will address an American Ireland Fund lunch," Hickey also noted.

Kris Balderston was on Democratic New York Senator Hillary Clinton's staff for eight years, before serving as Special Representative for Global Partnerships at the US Department of State for nearly four years from April of 2009 to February 2013, according to his LinkedIn resume. While Clinton was in the Senate, Balderston served as her Legislative Director before being promoted to Deputy Chief of Staff. He quit the State Department - during the same month Clinton and Abedin left - to work in the private sector at a public relations firm. AdWeek's Patrick Coffee referred to Balderston's career move as "another sign of the very close proximity of PR to politics."

"Fleishman-Hillard today announced the appointment of Kris Balderston as senior partner and general manager of the firm's Washington, D.C., office," a press release noted on February 7, 2013. "He comes directly from his position as Special Representative for Global Partnerships at the U.S. Department of State."
"At State, Balderston conceptualized and led the Global Partnership Initiative within the Office of the Secretary of State. In this capacity, he brokered alliances with more than 300 private sector businesses, nonprofit organizations and others. These partnerships employed practical, market-based solutions to advance U.S. diplomacy, further international development goals and address significant global humanitarian challenges. His 30-plus years of experience in Washington includes tenure in the Clinton White House, where he was Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet and Deputy Assistant to the President."
"In addition, Balderston was Senior Policy Advisor to Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell at the U.S. Senate Democratic Policy Committee, Deputy Chief of Staff in the Office of the Secretary at the Department of Labor, Senior Policy Associate and Project Manager at the National Governors Association, and Senior Policy Associate at the Council of State Community Affairs Agencies," the press release added. Former Maine Democratic Senator George Mitchell is now a Senior Advisor to Teneo. "In 1995, he served as a Special Advisor to President William J. Clinton on Ireland, and from 1996 to 2000 he served as the Independent Chairman of the Northern Ireland Peace Talks," Mitchell's Teneo bio notes. "In 2000 and 2001, at the request of President Clinton, Prime Minister Ehud Barak, and Chairman Yasser Arafat, Senator Mitchell served as Chairman of an International Fact-Finding Committee on violence in the Middle East."

In the Fleishman-Hillard press release, Balderston hails Hillary Clinton: "The firm has a deep understanding of that dynamic and is enthusiastically embracing new ideas and innovative solutions. That spirit is similar to what Secretary Clinton brought to the State Department, and I'm excited to lead the Washington office in that kind of exciting and creative environment."

"Emails and other communications exchanged among three of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's inner circle of advisers and officials at her family's foundation and a controversial consulting firm are at the center of the latest transparency lawsuit to hit the Department of State," Sarah Westwood reported for the Washington Examiner on March 28, 2015. "Citizens United, a right-leaning activist nonprofit, sued the department March 16 after it ignored a series of Freedom of Information Act requests for written and electronic communications of Huma Abedin, Cheryl Mills and Kris Balderston, all longtime Clinton confidantes and close aides at the State Department."

Westwood added, "The group pressed for personal emails and letters between Abedin and a number of officials with ties to Teneo, including Band, company co-founder Declan Kelly and former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell."

Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes report about a "massive Clinton fundraising operation" and refer to Balderston as "Hillary’s special ops guy at State" in a new book called "HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton", which was excerpted at Salon on March 21, 2015.
"Hillary tapped Kris Balderston, the hit list author, to keep the Clinton political network humming at State. A longtime lieutenant to both Clintons, Balderston, who called everyone “buddy,” liked to talk in salesman’s terms about Hillary’s 'power to convene' and her commitment to making sure her partners could 'do well by doing good.' What he meant was that Hillary could use the Clinton Rolodex to focus private-sector money, government power, and the expertise at colleges and nonprofits to solve global problems. At best, they would do a public service and make a buck. At worst, they would make a powerful friend. Balderston became, for lack of a better term, Hillary’s special ops guy at State.

He wrote Hillary the first memo on his concept for an office that would mirror Bill’s Clinton Global Initiative on December 8, 2008, less than a week after she was named to her job and more than six weeks before she took office. Though she had to wait for some of her lieutenants to clear the Obama vetting process and a Senate confirmation vote, she had made it a priority to empower Balderston, the political fixer who could help her build unique networks connecting her State Department to other government agencies, the nonprofit sector, and the corporate world. While many Democrats believe that government is the answer to the world’s problems, and many Republicans believe the same of the private sector, Balderston’s office was the embodiment of Hillary’s core Clintonian belief that government, business, and charitable organizations are all vital components of a thriving society.
See also "Staff employed by State Dept. as administrative support for Clinton envoy helped launch Teneo" and "Questions linger about Clintons-linked firm co-founded by former US Economic Envoy to Northern Ireland "

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Staff employed by State Dept. as administrative support for Clinton envoy helped launch Teneo

April 7 Update: Fifth staff member who followed Declan Kelly from State Dept. to Teneo was Senior Counsel to Economic Envoy to Northern Ireland

US Economic Envoy to Northern Ireland had "post-employment consulting arrangement" that included "leased company car" and health benefits for family from firm he left for 2-year ambassadorship

(Editor's note: Much of this is excerpted from much longer article "Questions linger about Clintons-linked firm co-founded by former US Economic Envoy to Northern Ireland.")

Declan Kelly - a long time friend of the Clintons - was appointed the US Economic Envoy to Northern Ireland by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in September of 2009. Although "speculated to be in line for the CEO's job", Kelly officially resigned from his job as "EVP and chief integration officer for FTI Consulting and chairman of FD US and FD Ireland" a few months earlier, but agreed to "serve as a senior adviser on several major client initiatives, first as an employee through October 5, then pursuant to a consulting agreement through June 15, 2011. According to the press release, he has resigned to pursue non-commercial opportunities outside of the firm," PR Week noted in July of 2009.

Less than a week after Kelly stopped officially working as an employee for FTI - but apparently remained a consultant - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued joint press statements with First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness at Stormont Castle in Northern Ireland, where she announced, "I have brought with me our new economic envoy, Declan Kelly, who is already hard at work, fostering economic ties."

After he resigned as envoy, Ryan Grim reported for Huffington Post on November 14, 2011, "As part of his deal with FTI, Kelly told HuffPost, he had agreed to a noncompete clause that prevented him from establishing a rival firm within two years of leaving FTI. Hillary Clinton had just been named to President Barack Obama's Cabinet and had something to keep him busy."

Kelly told Huffington Post, "When she wasn't successful [in her presidential campaign] and she became secretary of state, she asked me if I wanted to do a stint as an envoy to Ireland, and it came at the right time in my life. So I gave up everything, resigned from the job and agreed to a two-year noncompete, and went to Northern Ireland and did that job for two years. And I resigned in March of this year, and in June we started the new business."

The noncompete clause states, "You hereby reaffirm your obligation to comply strictly with the post-employment restrictions in the Employment Agreement during the twelve month period commencing October 6, 2009, and you hereby reaffirm your obligation under the Amended RSA, during the period up to and including June 15, 2011, not to (a) become employed by or a partner in or a consultant to any financial communications business competing with FD and/or any of its affiliates (the “Group”) in any one or more countries in Western Europe, or in the United States or Canada or South Africa or Dubai or Hong Kong or China or India or Bahrain or Russia (a “Competing Business”) and in a manner in which your employment, partnership or consultancy would compete with the Group, (b) solicit clients or employees of the Group away from the Group for the benefit of a Competing Business or (c) willfully or deliberately disclose to any person information which is confidential to the Group, subject only to the following express exceptions: (a) your performance of services as an independent contractor to FTI during the period October 6, 2009 through and including June 15, 2011, or earlier in the event you terminate the independent contractor relationship prior thereto; and (b) your employment (whether directly or through an entity owned by you) of Sue Bloomberg."

In the Huffington Post article, Kelly didn't mention that - per his termination agreement - he had a "post-employment consulting arrangement with FD US and FTI."

"You will be reimbursed, in accordance with standard FTI expense reimbursement practice, for all business related expenses incurred by you during the period through October 5, 2009, and for all business related expenses incurred in connection with the Key Accounts (or approved in advance by the CEO of FTI) during the period through June 15, 2011," the agreement noted. "During the period from October 6, 2009 through June 15, 2011, you (or an entity to be formed and owned by you) will serve as an independent contractor consultant to FTI and FD."

"In the event you determine to accept a position in government service that prohibits or materially impairs your performance of services as an independent contractor consultant to FTI or FD through June 15, 2011, you will provide not less than thirty (30) days’ written notice of such decision to the CEO of FTI, and during such notice period you will consult and work with the CEO of FTI and other members of FTI and FD senior management, as well as the pertinent client facing FD professionals, to develop and implement a plan reasonably calculated to facilitate the continued and uninterrupted provision of client services to the Key Accounts.

You and your family shall be entitled to continued medical and dental insurance coverage at present levels through June 15, 2011. Thereafter, you will be eligible to continue your health insurance coverage under COBRA, as in effect at such time. You will receive further details on these conversion/continuation rights in a separate document from FlexAmerica.

You will continue to have the use of a leased company car in accordance with Section 5(d) of your Employment Agreement through June 15, 2011. In the event applicable FTI insurance arrangements do not permit the continued use of a leased company car after October 5, 2009, suitable and mutually acceptable alternative arrangements will be made.
"During the period October 6, 2009 through June 15, 2011, you will be entitled to receive the Key Account Personal Billings, the *** Origination Fee, and the *** Origination Fee, with payment of such fees, in each instance, to be made 10 working days after such fees are collected," the agreement adds.

Financial statements suggest that Kelly earned as much as $2.4 million from FTI in 2009, but it's unclear what he received from them the next two years.

The Huffington Post article continued, "As the Northern Ireland envoy, Kelly took no salary from State, he said, but was afforded one staffer in Washington and reimbursed for coach flights across the pond. On his own dime, he said, he hired a staff of five and paid for office space at a cost of $1.4 million, while also giving up potentially millions in salary over the two-year period. Kelly's assertions may sound extreme, but ambassadors and high-level envoys are known to spend heavily with their personal money while in the job. The White House referred questions to the State Department; a spokesman there didn't respond to requests for comment."

"Kelly has brought that staff with him to his new investment firm," Grim noted.

He bragged to Huffington Post in 2011, "I didn't need the State Department or the U.S. government's help to access the economic elite in Ireland. I have advised four prime ministers in Ireland, all pro bono. I had a business in Ireland for over a decade, I have a home there, I am an Irish citizen and I know virtually every senior business leader in the country. I've gained no personal benefit from this at all."

But according to the Irish Echo, the State Department helped "provide administrative support" to Kelly, so it's unclear how much was spent by the US government.

"The formation of Kelly’s newest venture was in the works for some time before Kelly resigned," the Irish Echo reported on August 4, 2011. "A trademark application was made for the Teneo company logo in April, 2010, and an application for funding was also submitted to the Rockefeller Foundation months before its approval in early June, giving the new company a huge grant for over three million dollars in start up cash."

The Irish Echo claimed that a "U.S. State Department official" told it that "the State Department did provide administrative support and reimbursement for travel expenses." It also reported, "Several staff employed by the State Department as administrative support for the envoy position while Mr. Kelly was envoy are now working at Teneo."

According to his LinkedIn resume, Stephen W. Meahl was an advisor to the Office of the US Economic Envoy to Northern Ireland from January 2010 to May 2011, then became a Senior Associate at Teneo Holdings in June 2011, Vice President in 2012, and Senior Vice President in December of 2014.

"Mr. Meahl is a Senior Vice President with Teneo Strategy," his Teneo bio states. "He also serves as Chief of Staff to Teneo’s Chairman and CEO where he is responsible for managing a wide range of special initiatives across the firm’s operating divisions."

The bio adds, "Prior to joining Teneo, Mr. Meahl worked for the US Department of State’s Economic Envoy to Northern Ireland where he was responsible for executing a number special initiatives to help drive economic development in support of the ongoing peace process. He began his career with Fidelity Investments." In 2009, an earlier version of Meahl's Teneo bio, added, "In his role, Mr. Meahl was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the office including all media and communications. He was also responsible for relationship management with key State Department and foreign officials, and coordinated the development of major initiatives within the office."

Therese O'Higgins, according to her LinkedIn resume, is now a Vice President at Teneo, and also "worked at the Office of the US State Department's Economic Envoy to Northern Ireland where she worked closely with the Ireland Funds and Northern Ireland Science Park to set up the US–NI Mentorship Program. The US-NI Mentorship Program is a planned one-year work placement for recent graduates from Northern Ireland to work with leading corporations in the US. Therese continues to run this program in collaboration with the aforementioned parties."

The US-NI Mentorship Program was founded by Declan Kelly when he worked as Clinton's envoy. In a message on its website, Kelly writes, "From September 2009 until May 2011, I had the privilege of serving as the US Economic Envoy to Northern Ireland. In that role, my office worked to increase economic opportunities between the US and Northern Ireland, and to develop programs that would have a long‐term impact on the region. One of the first things I discovered about Northern Ireland was the strength of the region’s incredible young people. Northern Ireland’s universities produce some of the highest quality graduates anywhere in the world, and these graduates play a key role in attracting foreign direct investment to the region.When I stepped down as Envoy, I was anxious to continue to support the US-NI Mentorship Program. Feedback on the program from both participants and host companies continues to be exceptionally positive and I am pleased to report that many of the world’s leading corporations have signed up for the program again for this year."

"The program selects approximately twenty graduates, from across Northern Ireland, and places them in US corporations for a one‐year work period. The graduates are individuals who have demonstrated academic promise and have shown an interest in developing entrepreneurship and management skills.The goal of the program is for the participants to be able to return to Northern Ireland with the skills and experience to start businesses and become business leaders in their communities. Having had the opportunity to meet with many of the participants of the program, I can tell you that they will be well prepared to return and invest in the future of Northern Ireland."
"Therese O'Higgins of @Teneo hands out awards at 3rd US-Northern Ireland Mentorship Program graduation event," @IRLFunds tweeted on November 6, 2013, including a picture from the event.

At the program's website (which mentions that she is a Teneo Vice President, US-Northern Ireland Mentorship Executive Director Therese O'Higgins writes, "Having been involved in this program from the outset, it is truly rewarding to see the program continue to enjoy success and attract the highest standards of graduates ."

"On March 12, 2015 US-NI Mentorship Program participants attended a lunch in New York City with Founder, Declan Kelly," the US-NI website announced. "The lunch was held at Teneo Holdings headquaters, New York celebrating the fifth year of the US-NI Mentorship Program."

So far, I've been unable to find a biography for O'Higgins on Teneo's website, so I'm unsure she still works there. Along with former Senior Associate Monica Milton, whose expunged Teneo bio, reveals she "joined Teneo after working with Declan Kelly during his appointment as the U.S. Economic Envoy to Northern Ireland for the U.S. Department of State. In that role, she was responsible for coordination with the U.S. Government including organizing official events, and conferences working with senior State Department officials and representatives from foreign governments. Prior to this, Ms. Milton was the Community Liaison Officer at the U.S. Embassy Muscat, Oman working as the Ambassador's representative managing internal and external programs as a key member of the in-country country team. Ms. Milton also represented the U.S. in a diplomatic role during two assignments at the U.S. Embassy, Cairo, Egypt assigned to the Defense Attach'e Office and the Public Affairs Office. Ms. Milton has also lived in Saudi Arabia."

According to his Teneo biography, Steven Sullivan, the current Chief Administration Officer and Chief Financial Officer also worked with Declan Kelly in the envoy's office.

"Prior to joining Teneo, Mr. Sullivan served as Deputy to the U.S. State Department’s Economic Envoy to Northern Ireland, helping to drive investment to the region from U.S. corporations and facilitate bi-lateral trade. In this position, Mr. Sullivan was responsible for relationship management and communications. Prior to his role with the U.S. Envoy, Mr. Sullivan worked in GE Capital’s Business Development and Mergers & Acquisitions Group focusing on restructuring strategies for GE Capital’s non-core assets, primarily consisting of commercial real estate, commercial equipment leasing and consumer finance platforms. Mr. Sullivan has also held positions within GE Capital’s Commercial Real Estate Division with responsibilities ranging from financial planning & analysis, loan restructuring, and transaction structuring."
Jacqueline Wilson - who is currently the Senior Managing Director at Teneo Strategy - is the fifth member of Kelly's staff who followed him from the State Department. According to her Teneo bio, "Prior to joining Teneo, Dr. Wilson was Senior Counsel to the U.S. State Department’s Economic Envoy to Northern Ireland, Declan Kelly."

"For over 20 years Jacqueline Wilson has been providing communications, reputation management, and government relations counsel to corporate, nonprofit, and government clients, with an emphasis on international engagements," the bio adds. "Her nonprofit clients have included academic institutions, associations, and international philanthropic and relief organizations. Government clients have included leaders of cities, states, and countries across the Americas and Europe."