In 2011, Bill Clinton had a problem. He had already figured out how to parlay his reputation into income by giving speeches. But, now, with his wife serving as secretary of state and a Democrat in the White House, he wanted to take things to the next level and actually solicit relationships with major companies and foreign governments.
He envisioned a network of corporate and foreign clients who would give him speaking fees, generate consulting income in which he could share, and give to his Foundation, whose assets and income he could use as he wished.
But to realize this grand vision, he needed an intermediary that would get clients and nurture the web he envisioned. So, working through his top aide and protege, Doug Band, he set up Teneo.
Band, for his part, realized this was the way to cash in on the relationship with his boss.
But Doug and Bill faced a problem. They needed the approval of the State Department Ethics Office that President Obama had made Hillary set up to monitor the business dealings of her peripatetic husband.
So they scrubbed the application. Band’s role as a principal of Teneo was omitted and he was identified just as the Clinton aide who submitted the application. The real purpose of the new company was hidden and the application claimed it was only designed “to study geopolitical, economic and social trends.”
In fact, it was a deal to hire Bill using his name and relationship with Hillary to attract global corporate and government clients. In return, Teneo paid him handsomely, solicited donations for the Clinton Foundation and set up lucrative speaking engagements for Bill.
Win-win for Teneo and Clinton. He’d get them clients; they’d get him speaking gigs.
Team Teneo desperately wanted Bill Clinton to head its advisory board — so it could hold out the former president and husband of the secretary of state as part of its team.
For its part, Teneo planned to tell corporations and governments about how do fashion a positive relationship with the U.S. government and the State Department to get what they wanted.
As Teneo itself described the company’s mission:
“In the U.S., we use our deep relationships to provide strategic counsel and help clients navigate policy debates in Washington and state capitals as they look to find support, amplification and clarity around the issues that they care about.”
Who better to do so than the former president and current husband of the secretary? But Teneo couldn’t tell the ethics officers that this was the real substance of the deal.
An earlier application by the Clinton Foundation requesting approval of a business relationship between Bill Clinton and billionaire Clinton supporter and donor Haim Saban had been rejected. The ethics officer turned it down “based on the fact that Haim Saban, a founder of this entity, is actively involved in foreign affairs issues, particularly with regards to the Middle East, which is a priority area for the Secretary.” Since Teneo and its clients intended to be involved in global affairs that were a priority for the Secretary of State, there was a likelihood that the Teneo request would be denied, too.
Clinton and Band did all they could to hide the real nature of Teneo and make it seem like a routine application for State Department review.
But it was anything but routine.
The big red flag was out there in plain view for the ethics police to see: For the first time in two years and hundreds of submissions to the ethics board, this application came directly from Doug Band and not from the normal channels at the Clinton Foundation. And, again, for the first time, the request was not copied to the Clinton Foundation, but only to Cheryl Mills. The inner circle was keeping things tight.
But the State Department missed that one completely.
And, according to documents released to Judicial Watch, the State dupes never raised a question as to who was running Teneo and how Clinton would function. Had they done so, they would have discovered that Band’s other partner was Declan Kelly.
As a kind of precursor to Teneo, Hillary had appointed Kelly to the newly created job as the State Department’s Special Economic Envoy to Ireland. A major donor, supporter and financial bundler for Hillary, the job put Kelly in touch with corporations in and out of Ireland on behalf of the U.S. State Department. Translation: He networked for future clients.
Now he was leaving the State Department to do the same thing for Teneo. But that conflict of interest eluded the State Department ethics dummies too.
In fact, his role begs the question of why the State Department would appoint an Irish citizen as its “economic envoy” to Ireland? Why would we even have an economic envoy to Ireland? The answer is simple – because the Clintons saw the future value — for them. And then they grabbed it. According to Irish Central, Kelly’s “connection and bond to President Clinton has opened up major avenues to him. In a business where power and influence is everything he has the 800-pound gorilla in his corner.”
And Kelly made sure that gorilla was well-fed.
The ethics police never asked exactly what Clinton would be doing for Teneo. They just rubber-stamped the request.
But Bill made clear exactly what was going on when he announced that, the next year, that he had “changed his relationship” with Teneo.
“Because of the invaluable help I continue to receive with my business relationships and speaking engagements, as well as with CGI and other philanthropic activities, like the Ireland investment conference, I felt that I should be paying them, not the other way around.”
And that valuable help has been seen in his overseas and corporate speaking engagements and the millions given to the Foundation.
Bill Clinton had the deepest of relationships in the U.S. and around the globe and perfectly fit Teneo’s needs. A match made in heaven.
And no worries about the State Department.