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The family whistleblower. Credit: WikiCommons

One of the little discussed Podesta emails shows how a number of Clinton insiders became worried about possible conflicts of interest at the family foundation after Chelsea Clinton herself raised concerns. The email — if legitimate, naturally –could spell problems because it suggests that a number of insiders may have personally cashed in through their work at the Foundation, which is a big no-no under IRS non-profit rules.

The November 13, 2013 email was sent from Doug Band to Cheryl Mills. The latter worked as one of Hillary’s top aides at the State Department while simultaneously doing sensitive work for the foundation. Band was a founder of Teneo, the consulting firm that traded on access to the Clintons. He also drew salaries from the Clinton Foundation and Bill Clinton’s post-presidential taxpayer-subsidized personal office.

(Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton’s close aide at the State Department, was paid by Teneo as a “senior advisor.” Justin Cooper, another early Teneo official, “was being paid by Clinton’s taxpayer-funded office, even as he was performing maintenance on Hillary Clinton’s controversial private email server,” Politico has reported.)

In the email, Band — who in another email described Chelsea Clinton as a power mad “spoiled brat” trying to intrude into foundation affairs — complained that he was no longer a direct employee of the foundation but, to prevent disquieting appearance problems, was paid through an entity called the Clinton Executive Services Corporation, or CESC.

Why, he asked, shouldn’t others with potential conflicts-of-interest have to take similar steps, starting with Bill Clinton himself? “How…do we go through an exercise like this and wjc [William Jefferson Clinton] doesn’t as he is far more conflicted every single day in what he does?” Band wrote.

Band says in the memo that Clinton was an advisor to Teneo and was also an advisor to Douglas Becker, the controversial executive of a private educational company that paid Clinton about $17 million to be honorary chancellor; and to sports and entertainment executive Casey Wasserman, who also ran a company called Wasserman Investments, GP and whose charitable organizations had donated up to $10 million to the Clinton Foundation.

Band listed a number of other Clinton pals who worked with the foundation, and who had potentially troubling appearance problems. These included Bob Harrison, Chief Executive Officer of the Clinton Global Initiative, who “has a ton of goldman stock and makes decisions on goldmans engagement/role in cgi”; and Ira Magaziner, who ran a foundation health initiative “and has been doing outside consulting all these years.”

Band continued (and note, I didn’t add punctuation but it’s pretty easy to sort out):

I am sure there are many others we don’t know about Cvc [Chelsea] uses office space to run a business so when I’m on the phone with brian williams and he raises her paid personal relationship and intertwines that with the foundation…I just don’t think any of this is right and that we should be treated this way when no one else is only bc cvc has nothing better to do and need justify her existence. It is as though we have done something wrong and a document like this only furthers that notion and thus, I’m not ok with it. 

Charles Ortel, one of the leading experts on the Clinton Foundation, says these disclosures could be a serious problem due to an IRS rule, called inurement, that prohibit insiders from personal enrichment from their roles at charities.

Under earlier IRS inurement rules, a foundation could be shut down for violations. Under current rules, a sharp penalty is imposed on individuals found to have violated the rule and on the foundation too.

I sought comment from the Clinton Foundation, Hillary’s campaign and, via Twitter, from Bill Clinton spokesman Angel Urena. In the past, Clinton entities typically decline comment and sometimes complain afterwards, as if they had never been given a chance to speak up in the first place.

In this case I received what I would describe as a non-responsive reply to questions from Glen Caplin, a spokesman for Hillary’s campaign. Read it carefully, Hillary’s presidential press conferences should be informative.

Here’s what he wrote:

“We are still not authenticating any individual emails, but here are a couple of things:

“While Donald Trump cheers on and encourages Putin’s attempt to influence our election through a crime reminiscent of Watergate, others like Senator Marco Rubio have condemned the attack and refuse to indulge in WikiLeaks’ propaganda campaign. Even after being briefed by U.S. intelligence before the first debate on Russia’s role in the hack, Trump has oddly chosen to coddle Putin by deflecting blame. The question tonight is whether Trump will finally admit the hack is happening, condemn Russia and tell the American people what his campaign knew and when they knew it.”

Oh yeah, he also sent along a statement with “15 facts about Trump, Russia and WikiLeaks,” a video on Trump’s alleged connections with Russia, and a Medium post laying out comparisons between Watergate and WikiLeaks.

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