‘Bill Clinton Inc.’: Hacked Memo Reveals Intersection of Charity And Personal Income
When top Bill Clinton aide Douglas Band wrote the memo, he was a central player at the Clinton Foundation and president of his own corporate consulting firm. Over the course of 13 pages, he made a case that his multiple roles had served the interests of the Clinton family and its charity.
The system has drawn scrutiny from Republicans, who say it allowed corporations and other wealthy supporters to pay for entree to a popular former president and a onetime secretary of state who is now the Democratic presidential nominee.
Band wrote the memo in 2011 to foundation lawyers conducting a review of the organization amid a brewing feud with the Clintons’ daughter, Chelsea Clinton, who was taking a stronger role in leading the foundation and had expressed concerns about Teneo’s operations.
The memo, made public Wednesday by the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, lays out the aggressive strategy behind lining up the consulting contracts and paid speaking engagements for Bill Clinton that added tens of millions of dollars to the family’s fortune, including during the years that Hillary Clinton led the State Department. It describes how Band helped run what he called “Bill Clinton Inc.,” obtaining “in-kind services for the President and his family — for personal travel, hospitality, vacation and the like.”
Band and his Teneo co-founder, former Hillary Clinton fundraiser Declan Kelly, declined to comment. But Teneo issued a statement saying that “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. It also clearly shows that Teneo never received any financial benefit or benefit of any kind from doing so.”
Spokesmen for Bill Clinton and Chelsea Clinton and the foundation declined to comment.
Hillary Clinton campaign spokesman Glen Caplin declined to comment on the memo, calling the material “hacked by the Russian government and weaponized by WikiLeaks.” Caplin declined to authenticate the memo, but he also did not dispute it.
Band, who grew close to Bill Clinton two decades ago as his personal aide in the White House and became the architect of his post-presidential activities, argued in the memo that he and his firm had benefited the former president and his foundation.
“We have dedicated ourselves to helping the President secure and engage in for-profit activities,” Band wrote. He also said he had “sought to leverage my activities, including my partner role at Teneo, to support and to raise funds for the foundation.”
Band’s memo provided data showing how much money each of Teneo’s 20 clients at the time had given to the Clinton Foundation, how much they had paid Bill Clinton and, in some cases, how he or Kelly had personally forged the relationships that resulted in the payments.
Band wrote that Teneo partners had raised in excess of $8 million for the foundation and $3 million in paid speaking fees for Bill Clinton. He said he had secured contracts for the former president that would pay out $66 million over the subsequent nine years if the deals remained in place.
For instance, Band wrote that Kelly arranged for the former president to meet the chief executive of Coca-Cola in January 2009 at the Clintons’ home in Washington. In all, according to Band’s memo, Coke had contributed $4.33 million to the foundation between 2004 and 2010.
A Coca-Cola spokesman said the company had supported the Clinton Foundation because it believed “in the great work that can be done when businesses, civil society and governments come together to solve problems.” He said Teneo had been hired to provide “business and communications” consulting.
Band also described how Kelly helped expand a fruitful relationship with UBS Global Wealth Management, introducing Bill Clinton to a top executive at a 2009 charity dinner. In the ensuing years, UBS upped its giving to the foundation, signed on as a Teneo client and agreed to pay Bill Clinton for speeches, Band wrote.
Records show UBS paid Clinton about $2 million in speaking fees between 2011 and 2015 for a series of appearances, generally alongside former president George W. Bush. The company also paid Hillary Clinton $225,000 for a 2013 speech.
UBS declined to comment.
Another achievement cited by Band: Laureate International Universities, a chain of for-profit international colleges, which donated to the foundation and agreed to pay Bill Clinton $3.5 million a year to serve as honorary chancellor.
Clinton has credited Band with conceiving of the Clinton Global Initiative, the glitzy annual meeting where corporate, government and nonprofit leaders gathered annually to talk about the world’s problems. Started in 2005, CGI became the best-known arm of the Clinton Foundation, which also operated education, environmental and health programs around the world. The final CGI meeting took place last month.
By 2011, the longtime Clinton aide was ready to strike out on his own.
That’s when Band and Kelly joined forces to form Teneo. At first, the firm remained closely linked to the Clinton network.
Band described in the memo how he combined his work for CGI and Teneo. He wrote that he had used a hotel room upstairs from the 2011 CGI gathering to meet with Teneo clients. He also acknowledged giving free CGI memberships to “target Teneo clients” being cultivated as potential foundation donors. Memberships generally cost $20,000 a year.
Teneo, meanwhile, named Bill Clinton its “honorary chairman.” Clinton had been initially tapped for a three-year arrangement in which he would provide advice to Teneo “regarding geopolitical, economic and social trends,” according to a separate June 2011 memo that Band wrote to the State Department seeking ethics approval for the former president’s employment.
Bill Clinton was initially paid $2 million by Teneo, according to “Man of the World,” a book written with the former president’s participation by author Joe Conason.
But Chelsea Clinton grew concerned when news leaked in late 2011 that MF Global, the hedge fund owned by former New Jersey governor Jon Corzine, had been paying the Clinton-tied firm $125,000 a month just before it went bankrupt.
According to emails released by WikiLeaks, Chelsea Clinton complained in December 2011 to longtime Clinton aide John Podesta, who at the time was serving as an adviser to the Clinton Foundation, that she had been informed that a member of her father’s office staff who answered to Band had been making calls to British lawmakers “on behalf of President Clinton” for Teneo clients, particularly for the chief executive of Dow Chemical.
Chelsea Clinton wrote that the calls were occurring without her father’s knowledge and that the reactions she was hearing to them would “horrify” Bill Clinton. In another email, she wrote she feared Teneo was “hustling business at CGI.”
Chelsea Clinton’s concerns helped spark efforts at the foundation to adopt new policies governing outside consulting agreements designed to erect a more solid wall between Bill Clinton’s private and charitable activities. Emails show that Cheryl Mills, who at the time was serving as Hillary Clinton’s chief of staff at the State Department, was deeply involved in the foundation’s proceedings.
Bill Clinton also separated from Teneo, returning to the company all but $100,000 of the money he had been paid, tax returns show.
Emails show how the dispute between Chelsea Clinton and her father’s longtime aide led to personal hostility.
“I don’t deserve this from her and deserve a tad more respect or at least a direct dialogue for me to explain these things,” Band wrote to Podesta at the time. “She is acting like a spoiled brat kid who has nothing else to do but create issues to justify what she’s doing because she, as she has said, hasn’t found her way and has a lack of focus in her life.”
Band complained that no similar scrutiny was being applied to Bill Clinton himself. Band noted that he had previously signed a conflict of interest document for CGI.
“Oddly, WJC does not have to sign such a document even though he is personally paid by 3 cgi sponsors, gets many expensive gifts from them, some that are at home etc.,” he wrote.
The Band memo disclosed by WikiLeaks on Wednesday made no direct reference to Hillary Clinton.
But Band outlined that Kelly, his Teneo co-founder, had served simultaneously between 2009 and 2011 as an unpaid economic envoy to Northern Ireland appointed by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and as head of a separate consulting company whose clients included Coke, UBS and Dow. Band wrote that the arrangement was consistent with Kelly’s State Department ethics agreement.
Kelly’s multiple roles came together during one State Department event in 2010, when then-Secretary Clinton recognized Dow, among other companies, for creating jobs in Northern Ireland and thanked Kelly for his work on the issue.
Dow became one of Teneo’s first major clients. According to Band’s memo, Dow chief executive Andrew Liveris had been introduced to Bill Clinton over a round of golf with Kelly in August 2009.
The company then increased its Clinton Foundation support, contributing $705,000 in 2010 and 2011. A Dow spokeswoman said that the company’s participation in the foundation dated to 2007 and that the charity was “aligned to core business and citizenship strategies that have positively leveraged the resources and capabilities of our company.”
Dow paid Teneo $2.8 million in 2011, payments that then jumped to $19.4 million in 2012, according to internal Dow documents made public as part of a whistleblower complaint. The company later said in public filings that the increase reflected a cost-saving decision to consolidate several consulting contracts with one firm.
But the spike raised red flags for an internal company fraud investigator, who expressed alarm that it may be linked to Bill Clinton’s work with a charity founded by Liveris – a charge the company denied.
“It appears Dow is paying Teneo for connections with Clinton,” the investigator wrote.