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US election 2016: Background

Aide said he helped set up deals worth US$50 million for Bill Clinton: WikiLeaks

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 October, 2016, 8:59am
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 October, 2016, 10:12pm

A close aide to Bill Clinton said he arranged for US$50 million in payments for the former president, part of a complicated mingling of lucrative business deals and charity work of the Clinton Foundation mapped out in a memo released by WikiLeaks on Wednesday.

The report was written by Doug Band, who has transitioned from his job as a Clinton aide to a partner in Teneo Consulting, a company whose client roster now includes some of the biggest companies in the world. Along the way, Band wrote, he also pushed his clients and contacts to donate millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation, and to help win business deals for Bill Clinton.

Band wrote the memo in November 2011 to John Podesta, now chairman of the Hillary Clinton campaign, and sent copies to other key Clinton aides, apparently to explain and justify his work in the face of criticism from others in the Clinton orbit — notably Chelsea Clinton.

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WikiLeaks has been releasing thousands of hacked emails from Podesta’s account in recent weeks, revealing the rivalries and controversies roiling inside the Clinton family network as Hillary Clinton prepared to run for president.

Earlier that month, another hacked email shows, Chelsea Clinton had written Podesta, saying it was time to professionalise the foundation’s operations and complaining that her father had heard of “multiple examples of Teneo ‘hustling’ business” at Clinton Global Initiative meetings.

In the memo, Band depicts himself as the indispensable linchpin of the Clinton family’s finances even as he acknowledges that the arrangement is unusual: “We appreciate the unorthodox nature of our roles,” Band wrote.

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A spokesman for the Clinton campaign declined to comment; the campaign has refused to confirm whether the emails are authentic. Band did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In the November 2011 memo, Band lays out how he founded Teneo five months earlier with Declan Kelly, one of Hillary Clinton’s top fundraisers during her 2008 presidential campaign. When Clinton became secretary of State, Kelly was named an envoy to Northern Ireland, holding the post even as he continued to represent several clients.

“Rightly or wrongly,” Band said, because other fundraisers couldn’t deliver, he and Kelly pushed their clients to donate to the foundation; he also lined up speaking and consulting deals for Bill Clinton. In some cases, it worked the other way, with Teneo winning consulting contracts from foundation donors.

One example, he said, was Laureate International University, the for-profit international school that donated more than US$1.4 million to the Clinton Foundation and was paying Bill Clinton US$3.5 million a year to serve as “honorary chancellor.”

The company paid Clinton more than US$17 million before the relationship ended last year, as Hillary Clinton was launching her presidential bid.

Band said handling the Laureate relationship was “very time-consuming,” not to mention all the other tasks he handled for Bill Clinton.

“We have in effect served as agents, lawyers, managers and implementers,” he said, hauling in US$50 million in personal work for Clinton and lining up US$66 million more. “Neither Justin nor I are separately compensated for these activities,” he wrote, referring to Justin Cooper, another Clinton aide who had joined him in Teneo.

The disputes continued through that year, emails show, with Band carping about Chelsea Clinton’s involvement — at one point he called her a “spoiled brat” — and pushing back against proposals to separate the foundation’s activities from business dealings. Band finally resigned from the foundation last year.