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.
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"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."

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