A series of newly released State Department emails obtained by ABC News offers fresh insight on direct contact between the Clinton Foundation and Hillary Clinton’s inner circle while she was Secretary of State.
The emails — released as part of a public records lawsuit by conservative group Citizens United and shared exclusively with ABC — reveal what the group claims is new evidence Foundation allies received special treatment. [Read the emails here.]
In one December 2010 email chain with Clinton’s closest aide Huma Abedin, then-top Clinton Foundation official Doug Band offers names for a State Department lunch with Chinese President Hu Jintao scheduled for January 2011.
On the list were three executives from organizations that have donated millions to the Clinton Foundation: Bob McCann, the then-president of wealth management at UBS; Dr. Judith Rodin, the president of the Rockefeller Foundation; and Hikmet Ersek, the CEO of Western Union.
According to the Foundation website, the UBS Wealth Management USA has contributed between $500,001 and $1 million to the Foundation; the Rockefeller Foundation has given between $10 million and $25 million, while Western Union and its foundation has contributed between $1 million and $5 million.
Nearly two weeks later, Band followed up on email, specifically requesting Rodin be seated at Vice President Joe Biden’s table. “I’ll ask,” Abedin replied.
In a separate exchange, Abedin forwarded to Band — outside the State Department — an attachment entitled “Updated China RSVP Guest List 1-5-11.” The attachment was not included in the documents received by ABC, but suggests sharing of information ahead of a state visit by President Hu Jintao in late January 2011.
Band declined comment to ABC News. Clinton Foundation spokesman Craig Minassian said the emails “aren’t related to the Clinton Foundation’s work improving lives around the world.”
A representative for McCann told ABC News he did not attend the lunch, while a representative for Ersek said he doesn’t have a “record” of the event. Rodin’s office did not immediately return a request for comment. The State Department said it could not provide a list of attendees.
In addition to State Department functions, Band also corresponded with Abedin about personal requests of some Clinton Foundation supporters.
In January 2011, Band at the Foundation forwarded an email to Abedin on behalf of Gerardo Werthein, a South American businessman who has donated more than $1 million to the Foundation, according to its website.
Calling Werthein a “great friend” and “big supporter,” Band asked Abedin to deliver a message to the U.S. ambassador to Malta on behalf of Werthein. The ambassador was scheduled to meet with the Admor, a religious leader in Malta and associate of Werthein.
Abedin passed on Band’s message to another State Department official asking for delivery to the ambassador’s assistant, writing, “Just want to pass along for info. No need for action.”
A June 2009 email from Band passed on thanks from a Tim Collins to Abedin for bringing him to “some event.” Abedin says, “We invited him into speech in Cairo.” ABC News could not confirm the identity of the Collins who attended the speech. The Clinton Foundation website lists a Timothy Collins, founder of the investment firm Ripplewood Advisors, as a major donor.
“After more than two years of Freedom of Information Act requests and lengthy litigation, the truth is finally coming out,” said David Bossie, president of Citizens United, in a statement. “Hillary Clinton’s senior staff at the State Department routinely worked with the Clinton Foundation to reward big donors with special access and favors for four years.”
The State Department and Clinton campaign both told ABC News that Foundation donors held no special influence or received favors.
When asked about the apparent involvement of a top Clinton Foundation official in requesting invitations for guests for State Department functions, spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau told ABC News: “The State Department does not believe it is inappropriate for the administration to consider individuals suggested by outside organizations when deciding who to invite to an official function.”
Clinton campaign spokesman Josh Schwerin said the emails released are a political attack on the Clintons.
“Citizens United is a right-wing group that’s been attacking the Clintons since the 1990s and, once again, is trying to make something out of nothing,” Schwerin told ABC News.
(Source: ABC News)