Friday, July 10, 2015

PR firm that briefly hired jilted Clinton aide after Weinergate scandal will now represent Facebook

In 2012, less than a year after her husband resigned from Congress after being caught lying about leaked explicit private messages by falsely claiming his Facebook account was hacked, Huma Abedin was hired by international PR firm Teneo while still working for then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Teneo was co-founded by two former Hillary Clinton fundraisers - including CEO Declan Kelly who she appointed as US Economic Envoy to Northern Ireland - and former President Bill Clinton's "body man", Doug Band. And, now, three years later, the global advisory firm will take on online social networking service Facebook as a client.

Despite its close ties to both Clintons, and the fact that its founders helped raise millions of dollars for 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in the past, Teneo's "rapid" expansion across the UK is being overlooked by the US press. Multiple media organizations - including the Associated Press and Gawker - have sued the State Department for stalling investigative reports by providing insufficient FOIA responses, but the reporters covering Hillary Clinton's campaign have mostly ignored Teneo and barely ask her questions about it. Last month, I reported that Teneo hired the former British counterpart to Hillary Clinton, former UK Foreign Secretary William Hague. Even though Clinton and Hague are friends, and her State Department worked with him, the news was mostly unreported in America.

"Teneo Holdings today announced that it has completed the acquisition of Blue Rubicon and StockWell, two of the UK's leading strategic communications and reputation management firms," a press release stated yesterday "The acquisitions of the two businesses, in addition to Teneo's existing UK operations, will create one of the largest strategic communications practices in the European market. It will also augment Teneo's operations in other parts of the world. All members of the Blue Rubicon and StockWell senior management team will continue as part of the Teneo leadership team. Terms of the transactions have not been disclosed."
"Blue Rubicon, widely regarded as one of the most progressive strategic communications consultancies to have emerged in London in the last 20 years, provides senior counsel to some of the world's largest companies as they navigate high-stake issues including succession planning, corporate restructuring, re-launches and post-M&A integration. Founded 15 years ago the firm has been led by Senior Partner, Fraser Hardie, CEO, Gordon Tempest-Hay, Partners Chris Jones and Fiona Joyce. Blue Rubicon today employs more than 225 people operating globally from offices in London, Doha, Dubai and Singapore.

StockWell was founded in 2010 and is led by its three Managing Partners: Tim Burt; Philip Gawith and Richard Holloway. The firm is headquartered in London and has 30 staff. StockWell specializes in providing boardroom level strategic communications advice to leading corporations and individuals across the UK, Europe and beyond.
In the press release, Chairman and CEO Declan Kelly states, "The acquisition of Blue Rubicon and StockWell is a transformational moment for Teneo as we continue to grow across the globe, building on our reputation as one of the world's leading advisory firms. Teneo is fortunate to advise many of the world's most senior business leaders on a daily basis. This requires us to be able to provide the highest-level strategic counsel at all times. Today's acquisitions will help us to enhance Teneo's offering even further in this regard."

"Blue Rubicon gives Teneo an expanded communications team with more than 225 employees across four offices — in London, Doha, Dubai, and Singapore — and a client roster that includes Facebook, Lloyds Bank, Mondelez, Unilever, and British supermarket chain Tesco," Fortune's Tom Huddleston, Jr. reported yesterday. "StockWell, meanwhile, has a staff of nearly 30 people and a list of clients that includes French telecom giant Orange and Vivendi."

The article added, "Blue Rubicon also works with Coca-Cola, which is also part of Teneo’s client list — a roster that includes Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba Group, Dow Chemical, and British bank Standard Chartered. Teneo’s recently landed a role advising Britain’s Willis Group Holdings on its $18 billion merger with U.S. consulting firm Towers Watson."

"So far this year, Teneo has advised clients on communications and investor relations for 10 different M&A deals worth a total of over $60 billion," and it "has grown rapidly from a 20-person team to one with more than 275 employees across 12 offices around the world," Huddleston noted.

According to its website, other Blue Rubicon clients include HSBC, Vevo, Instagram, McDonalds, Prudential, Samsung, Western Union and ebay.

"The former Congressman switched his Facebook account from Anthony.Weiner to AnthonyDWeiner in November of 2010, and only left one message there afterward, on the same day he stopped posting at his new account, three days after the 'Weinergate' scandal publicly began on May 27, 2011," as I reported in 2012.

"We are having a big 'going out of business' sale on this page," Weiner wrote on November 24, 2010. "But we have double coupons and huge discounts on a far better site. Check it out at ill be posting there. so this one may get a little dusty."

According to reports - and one of my sources who sexted with Weiner - the old account was used by Weiner in 2011 strictly to speak to his female admirers (it's possible Weiner used his older account to speak to other people, but none have come forward). My source told me that she never exchanged any communications with Weiner on his newer Facebook account which contains his middle initial "D". Also, he ignored her pleas to contact her after the scandal broke out.

Weiner abandoned both accounts on May 30, 2011, but he only left a message referring to his hacking at his older account, which appears to have been unnoticed by the press.

"Hello friends," Weiner wrote on May 30, 2011 in his first message at his old Facebook account in six months. "I know this page has been dry for a while, but if you've gotten any odd emails, chats or notices from here recently, drop me a note. And thanks for supporting me over at our fully jazzed page linked above."

Since the message was left before he admitted to sexting a week later, Weiner - perhaps - was thinking of pretending that the older account had been hacked.

In January of 2012, I asked Facebook a number of questions regarding both of Weiner's accounts and its policies - in general - when someone claims to be hacked. On May 28, 2011, Ginger Adams Otis at The New York Post reported, "'Anthony's accounts on both Facebook and Twitter were hacked,' said spokesman Dave Arnold," and "Weiner, who represents parts of Queens and Brooklyn, got a message about a week ago from Facebook alerting him that his password might have been tampered with, Arnold said. But the warning was ignored, granting the hacker carte blanche to hijack Weiner's online identity."
Is there any way I can confirm that Rep. Weiner and/or his office received such a message from Facebook in the last week or two of May? I'm curious why if this wasn't true no one from Facebook denied it.

Were any hacking investigations launched after Weiner's claims hit the airwaves?

Did Weiner contact Facebook to probe or vice versa after Weiner's spokesman mentioned the hacking?

Did the Secret Service or FBI or any other law enforcement agencies contact Facebook to probe the claim before or after the news hit the press?

If there was such a probe, has it ended or is it ongoing?

What does Facebook normally do when a celebrity claims that their account was hacked? I would assume it would be a black eye for the company, and you would want to ensure that the claim was true. Have there been circumstances when you probed such a claim and found no proof of it?

Would Facebook ever consider taking legal or criminal action when a false hacking claim is made?

Approximately how many confirmed Facebook hackings occurred in 2010. How many reported? Does Facebook keep track of such events (obviously, I'm assuming you do)?
"Thanks for your inquiry," a manager from Facebook's Public Policy Communications sent me an email by iPhone - months later - on May 13. "We'll decline to comment."

After two years of investigating longtime Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin's concurrent work at Teneo while still working for the former Secretary of State, a top Republican senator accused the State Department of erecting a "stone wall" to evade his questions. In his June 13, 2013 request to the State Department, 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, as I noted in March. Almost immediately after his resignation, disgraced Democratic NY Rep. Anthony Weiner also reportedly landed consulting gigs through Bill Clinton.

Huma Abedin was still in charge of helping to arrange former State Secretary's Hillary Clinton's schedule and worked for Teneo when both attended the December 2012 Belfast luncheon. In April, I reported that a September 2012 Teneo brochure touted Abedin as 'Senior Leadership' for the firm to clients, and her specific job title was listed as a 'Senior Advisor', even though the media and public didn't know she worked for both at the time. 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 - was 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.

In May, conservative-leaning watchdog 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."

At The Washington Examiner, Sarah Westwood wrote, "Reporter Ron Brynaert first noted the connection between Teneo and the Ireland Funds on his blog, -gate News."

"A longtime Clinton aide, Abedin reportedly advised Clinton on her schedule and travel as deputy chief of staff — raising questions about whether she played a role in steering the secretary of state to an event in which her other employer was involved," Westwood reported, based on my articles, adding, "State Department officials did not return a request for comment" and "Teneo did not return a request for comment on its involvement with the Ireland Funds."


See my previous stories for more information on the links between Teneo and the Clintons:

Controversial consulting firm linked to Clintons hires another former political big shot

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

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'

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