Conservative watchdog group Citizens United is pursuing legal action against the State Department in an attempt to compel the agency to hand over records involving a major Clinton Foundation donor who was assigned to a government intelligence advisory board despite no evident qualifications for the job.
Citizens United attorneys appeared in federal court Friday to argue the case against Rajiv Fernando, a stock trader and Democratic donor.
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"The only reason why Mr. Fernando was appointed to this board of security experts was because of his big donations to the Clinton Foundation," David Bossie, the president of Citizens United, told ABC News. "The American people have a right to see these documents before the November election."
ABC News reported in early June that Fernando, who specialized in electronic investing, sat on the International Security Advisory Board to help advise Clinton on nuclear weapons issues while she served as secretary of state.
The panel is composed primarily of nuclear scientists, security experts, and former members of Congress, raising questions from ABC News in 2012 over Fernando’s lack of experience in the field.
"As you can see from the attached, it’s natural to ask how he got onto the board when compared to the rest of the esteemed list of members," Jamie Mannina, a former Clinton press aide, wrote in one of the emails.
State Department emails released in June unveiled that Fernando was likely assigned to the position by Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s chief of state during her tenure as secretary of state.
Fernando contributed maximum campaign donations to Clinton’s 2008 presidential bid before becoming a major fundraiser for President Obama in the general election. He resigned from the sensitive intelligence advisory board two days after ABC News requested Fernando’s resume from the State Department in 2011.
State Department officials have said Fernando’s appointment was aimed at diversifying the board’s backgrounds, according to ABC News.
"All I know is that the charter does lay out or stipulate that [they’re] looking for a broad range of experiences," State Department spokesperson Mark Toner told reporters in June. "It’s not unimaginable that a businessman, an international businessman, might bring a certain level of expertise or knowledge or experience to such a job."
Newly released State Department emails published last week illuminated overlapping interests between the Clinton Foundation and the department during Clinton’s time as secretary of state.
The 296 pages of emails, released Tuesday by conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch, detailed instances of top Clinton Foundation officials rewarding their donors with access to the State Department.