Buried in a footnote at the very bottom of a 13-page memo, a close associate of former president Bill Clinton appeared to admit using access to the inner workings of the Clinton Foundation and the annual Clinton Global Initiative to provide perks to companies he hoped to personally do business with.
The memo, authored by Douglas Band, was one of thousands of documents leaked to the whistleblower organization WikiLeaks after what federal officials say was a hack of the personal email account of John Podesta, the chair of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, by a group with ties to the Russian government.
Written in November 2011, the memo is meant to provide an outside law firm auditing the Clinton Foundation’s governance with background on the role of Band and his consulting firm, Teneo, within the Foundation.
In it, though, Band appears to confirm at least one of the practices that Chelsea Clinton flagged as a concern in an email to Podesta and Hillary Clinton’s chief of staff (also leaked to WikiLeaks) earlier that month.
“My father was told today of explicit examples at CGI of Doug/ Teneo pushing for - and receiving - free memberships - and of multiple examples of Teneo 'hustling' business at CGI,” she wrote, as part of a list of things she said needed to be addressed as part of the “professionalization” of the Foundation.
“CGI” refers to the Clinton Global Initiative, the annual gathering of world business and political leaders meant to serve as a forum for ideas about solving global problems. Attendance at the event comes with a hefty fee, in the tens of thousands of dollars, for representatives of for-profit enterprises. However, in the footnote to his memo, Band appears to concede that prospective clients of his firm were provided “comped” memberships.
“Historically, CGI has accommodated as many paying members as we can identify; the majority of members that attend are comped,” Band wrote. “In the absence of an established policy, there are a variety of methods. We have comped individuals that fall primarily into the following categories: spouse of CGI employees, government employees, potential donors being cultivated – including target Teneo clients, President Clinton’s family and friends, family and friends of Foundation employees, guest requests of foreign dignitaries, and celebrities. As the Foundation identified a formal policy for comped passes, we encourage the creation of a policy that will be commonly applied – as opposed to applied by exception.”
The point that Band is careful to make in the memo -- that “target Teneo clients” are also potential donors to the Clinton Foundation -- gets to one of the other eye-opening elements of the memo: the evidence of how closely connected the charitable contributions that the foundation takes in are to President Clinton’s considerable personal income.
Band exhaustively catalogs the work he has done to raise money for the Foundation, both as an employee and then, after forming Teneo with partner Declan Kelly in 2011, as a partner with the new firm. He makes it clear that a side-effect of many of the donations he has solicited has been the generation of highly lucrative speaking and consulting deals for the former president.
Among the relationships he mentions are with UBS Wealth Management, whose head, Bob McCann, is a close associate of Kelly’s.
“Mr. Kelly introduced Mr. McCann to President Clinton at an American Ireland Fund event in 2009,” Band writes. “Mr. Kelly subsequently asked Mr. McCann to support the Foundation, which he did via the Clinton Economic Opportunity Initiative. Mr. Kelly also encouraged Mr. McCann to invite President Clinton to give several paid speeches, which he has done.”
Band also notes his own role in cultivating a relationship with Laureate International Universities.
“Laureate is a Foundation relationship that evolved into a personal advisory services business relationship for President Clinton,” he writes. “I have managed this relations and, since 2011, Teneo partners have helped manage this relationship, which is very time-consuming. Laureate pays President Clinton $3.5 million annually to provide advice and serve as their Honorary Chairman.”
In another section of the memo, Band lays out the support that he and Justin Cooper, a senior figure at Teneo, have given the former president in his for-profit efforts.
Among the many Teneo clients that were urged to donate to the Clinton Foundation (some, like Coca Cola giving more than $4 million over six years), one small donation stands out because it was vetted at the State Department.
BHP – $175,000 in 2012
BHP is hosting a board of directors meeting in June of 2012. We encouraged them to do it in NY and pay President Clinton through Walker. The offer is currently at the state department being vetted.
“In support of the President’s for-profit activity, we also have solicited and obtained, as appropriate, in-kind services for the President and his family – for personal travel, hospitality, vacation and the like. Neither Justin nor I are separately compensated for these activities (e.g., we do not receive a fee for, or percentage of, the more than $50 million in for-profit activity we have personally helped to secure for President Clinton to date or the $66 million in future contracts, should he choose to continue with those engagements).”
The relationship between Band and the Foundation has also raised questions about whether or not Teneo and its representatives were properly registered with the government when they solicited donations for the Foundation, something that Mrs. Clinton’s challenger for the presidency, Republican nominee Donald Trump, pounced on Thursday.
“The revelation that the Clinton Foundation undertook an in-depth investigation into whether they were violating IRS charity rules because of the money-making efforts of the Clintons is deeply concerning,” said Trump communications adviser Jason Miller. “In the matter of transparency, the Clintons must release all the internal documents related to the investigation of the Foundation, including interview notes and other supporting documentation as well as all initial and preliminary reports.”