The State Department’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has agreed, only two years after the fact, to investigate a program that allowed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to hire one of her key personal advisors, Huma Abedin, for government work even as she was also employed by a private firm.
Conflict of Interest?
Inspector General Steve Linick said he is looking into whether those employed as Special Government Employees (SGE), the designation Clinton gave to Abedin, are following the law, and avoiding conflicts of interest. The idea is if you are being paid by two organizations, where your loyalty lies can come into question. Never mind the potential misuse of sensitive information you might acquire at the Secretary of State’s side.
“The OIG intends to examine the department’s SGE program to determine if it conforms to applicable legal and policy requirements,” Linick said in response to a request from Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Charles Grassley.
Clinton approved hiring Abedin, her long-time assistant, as an SGE, which allowed her to collect a government salary while also continuing to work for Teneo, a private firm. Teneo is a global advisory firm that helps with investments and other financial needs for many of the world’s largest and most complex companies and organizations. Knowing a bit about upcoming U.S. government decisions and plans would make someone quite a valuable asset in such a company.
Not the Right Order of Things
In addition to the conflict of interest issue, Senator Grassley also questioned whether Abedin was qualified to be designated an SGE at all.
The designation of someone as a Special Government Employee is supposed to be used to entice someone already in the private sector to split his or her time in order for the government to tap “special knowledge and skills.” However, in Abedin’s case, she was already working for Clinton. It was only after Clinton unilaterally designated her as an SGE that she moved to take an outside job, Grassley said.
In other words, the SGE program is designed to bring outside experts in to assist the government, not allow State Department employees to launch second careers in the private sector while remaining tied to the Department.
How Much Did She Make, and Why Can’t We Know?
There is no legal prohibition against State Department employees having an outside job per se, but they cannot be seen as taking advantage of their official position, and they must report their outside income to the Department.
Abedin, however, did not report her income. “Ms. Abedin did not disclose the arrangement — or how much income she earned — on her financial report,” the New York Times discovered. “An adviser to Clinton, Philippe Reines, simply said that Abedin was not obligated to do so.”
No explanation was given, and the State Department did not question the unique arrangement.
All Roads Lead Back to the Clinton Foundation
Abedin is a busy woman. In the midst of her multiple jobs, she also found time to, you guessed it, serve as a consultant to the Clinton Foundation.
Abedin only ended her private sector consulting practice to move on to become director of Clinton’s transition office out of State. She now, of course, works for the Hillary campaign.
Abedin is married to former Democratic Representative Anthony Weiner, who resigned after a sexting scandal that involved photos of his penis and the use of false name, “Carlos Danger.”
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