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.
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.
When Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived at Dublin Airport on December 5, 2012, Teneo CEO Declan Kelly was there to greet her, as seen in this video uploaded to YouTube by U.S. Embassy Dublin.
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.
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 appears to show longtime aide Huma Abedin sitting at a table behind Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:
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 www.clintonemail.com 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."
While serving as U.S. Economic Envoy to Northern Ireland, Declan Kelly helped set up the US-NI Mentorship Program, 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.
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 "