'Bill Clinton, Inc.' memo reveals blurred lines between charitable, personal fundraising
Former President Bill Clinton raked in millions of dollars in speaking fees in the years after leaving the White House, cashing in personally from many of the same donors who gave to the Clinton family's charitable organization.
A newly leaked memo penned in 2011 by Doug Band, a top aide to the former president, and released by WikiLeaks as part of a trove of documents stolen from the email account of Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, detailed how closely the Clinton Foundation's charitable efforts were sometimes intertwined with the Clintons' personal interests.
In the memo, Band, who co-founded the consulting company Teneo Strategies, outlined how he ran "Bill Clinton, Inc.," using his client list at the consulting firm, which included companies such as Coca-Cola and Dow Chemical, to procure donations to the Clinton Foundation and speaking fees for the former president. In all, Band said he raised more than $50 million.
"Throughout the past 11 years since President Clinton left office, I have sought to leverage my activities, including my partner role at Teneo, to support and raise funds ... to support the Clinton Foundation and President Clinton personally."
Band wrote the memo, the authenticity of which has not been confirmed nor disputed, in response to an investigation into the foundation's activities requested by its board. Members were reportedly concerned some of the former president's personal enrichment could jeopardize the foundation's status as a charitable organization.
"As the memo demonstrates, Teneo worked to encourage clients, where appropriate, to support the Clinton Foundation because of the good work that it does around the world," Teneo said in a statement in response to the memo's leak. "It also clearly shows that Teneo never received any financial benefit or benefit of any kind from doing so."
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But the memo demonstrated the kinds of commingling that the Clintons' critics – and even some allies – have said create at least the appearance of inappropriate mixing of public and charitable activities for personal gain.
The investigation was prompted in part by Chelsea Clinton, who expressed concerns Band was overstepping by invoking the former president's name without his permission.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has repeatedly accused the Clintons of quid pro quo, suggesting that Hillary Clinton used her perch as secretary of state to solicit donations to the foundation – and presumably, to line her pockets – in exchange for favors.
"The more emails WikiLeaks releases, the more the lines between the Clinton Foundation, the Secretary of State's office, and the Clintons' personal finances are blurred," Trump said in a statement Thursday. "Mr. Band called the arrangement 'unorthodox.' The rest of us call it outright corruption."
"If the Clintons were willing to play this fast and loose with their enterprise when they weren't in the White House, just imagine what they will do if they are given the chance to control the Oval Office," Trump continued.
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