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.

September 3rd update: Five months after breaking this story, emails obtained by conservative group Citizens United - via lawsuits against the State Department - and sent to the Washington Post confirmed much of my reporting on this article and its follow-up, "State Secretary's last dinner in Dublin hosted by Clinton Foundation donor.". The emails show Clinton aide Huma Abedin, Teneo CEO Declan Kelly discussing and arranging a get-together, which included Irish-American fundraisers - who were invited by another Clinton aide working for the State Department, as I reported. "Maybe we can all gather for drinks/dinner and HRC can come join for as long as she can?" Abedin wrote Kelly, the fundraisers and Hillary staffers at the State Dept. on November 30, 2012, while she was being paid by the State Department, Teneo, the Clinton Foundation, and Hillary Clinton, personally. She also reminded everyone about the Ireland Fund lunch, which would be announced in a Teneo press release - before or after Abedin's email was sent - that same day - and knew enough information to assure fundraisers that "of course all of you are already on that list as well."

The Washington Post journalists ignored my emails, tweets, phone calls, and links to a Judicial Watch article on my exclusive reporting, didn't credit me, and left out key information. Top Clinton Foundation donor, Irish billionaire Denis O'Brien's name isn't mentioned in the Post article, and one of their sources apparently lied to them, as I will expand upon in a future article. More importantly, the Post ignored my exclusive reporting that Clinton's last international speech was to help raise money for a Teneo client, and the CEO sat on the board of the charity that honored her. On August 4th, James Taranto at the Wall Street Journal claimed that a Washington Examiner story - linking to an April article crediting my reporting - helped make it a "bad week" for Hillary Clinton.

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 "

No comments: