Newly released emails from a top aide to Hillary Clinton show evidence of contacts between Clinton’s State Department and donors to her family foundation and political campaigns.
The emails released Tuesday by the conservative group Judicial Watch included a 2009 exchange in which Doug Band, a senior staff member at the Clinton Foundation, told a top Clinton aide at the State Department that it was “important to take care of” an individual, whose name was redacted.
Huma Abedin, the State Department aide, replied that “personnel has been sending him options.”
The evident effort at job placement may add to criticism that the State Department was too close to the foundation during Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state from 2009 to 2013, despite her pledge not to take actions benefiting her family’s charitable organization. The Republican Party has said that Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, sought to help contributors to the foundation in a “pay-for-play” scheme.
In 2011, Band became co-founder of Teneo Holdings, a consulting firm with international clients. Abedin at times held overlapping jobs with the State Department, Teneo and the Clinton Foundation, an arrangement that Judicial Watch has questioned through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.
In another 2009 exchange released Tuesday, Band asked Abedin and Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s chief of staff, to put Lebanese-Nigerian billionaire Gilbert Chagoury in touch with a State Department “substance person” on Lebanon. The Chagoury Group co-founder has given between $1 million and $5 million to the Clinton Foundation, according to a list of donors posted online.
Asked about the emails from Band, State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau said in a statement that “it’s not unusual for candidates to be recommended to the department through a variety of avenues” and that department officials “are regularly in touch with a range of outside individuals and organizations.”
The Clinton campaign sought in an email to clarify the nature of the contacts. “Neither of these emails involve the Secretary or relate to the Foundation’s work. They are communications between her aides and the President’s personal aide, and indeed the recommendation was for one of the Secretary’s former staffers who was not employed by the Foundation,” Clinton national spokesman Josh Schwerin said. Band long served as a personal aide to former President Bill Clinton.
A lawyer for Abedin declined to comment.
The Republican National Committee had a different take.
“That the Clinton Foundation was calling in favors barely 3 months into Hillary Clinton’s tenure at the State Department is deeply troubling and it is yet another reminder of the conflicts of interest and unethical wheeling and dealing she’d bring to the White House,” RNC spokesman Michael Short said in an e-mail.
Judicial Watch released 296 emails Tuesday, most sent to or from Abedin but not necessarily Clinton, whose use of a private email system has caused an uproar. The cache did include 44 previously unreleased exchanges sent or received by Clinton. The newly released emails included a mix of State Department and personal emails.
Judicial Watch said it has now found 171 messages that weren’t included in the 30,000 emails Clinton turned over to the State Department. FBI Director James Comey has said that his agency found “several thousand” work-related emails that weren’t turned over by Clinton’s lawyers. Clinton has told the State Department she believes she submitted all work-related emails she had in her possession, the department’s Trudeau said in a statement.
The latest group of messages “show the Clinton Foundation, Clinton donors, and operatives worked with Hillary Clinton in potential violation of the law,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement from the group, which also said the interactions “seem in violation of the ethics agreements that Hillary Clinton agreed to in order to be appointed and confirmed as Secretary of State.”
Previously disclosed Clinton emails showed the secretary interacting with donors to her campaign and foundation, particularly if they seemed to have expertise on some matter of international relations or diplomacy. Clinton and her team also hired political associates for State Department jobs, and the emails showed her considering others, common practices in the department and diplomatic posts.
More than half of likely voters say they are bothered a lot by the Clinton foundation accepting money from foreign governments when she was secretary of state, according to a Bloomberg Politics poll released Wednesday. A quarter of likely voters said the issue didn’t bother them at all.
Bloomberg writer Andrew Harris contributed to this report.