Estée Lauder Exec Received Special Appointment After Donating to Clinton Foundation

Executive Director of org that donated $1 to $5 million to Clinton Foundation appointed to council on HIV/AIDS

Hillary Clinton
August 25, 2016

Estée Lauder executive Nancy Mahon was appointed to a government council and received special government employee status after donating to the Clinton Foundation while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state.

Executives at Estée Lauder were among those who got face time with Secretary Clinton after they donated to the Clinton Foundation, according to an AP report. However, Nancy Mahon not only met with Clinton, she also was appointed to a government position after a fund she helped run pledged millions to the Foundation in 2008.

Mahon is a senior vice president at Estée Lauder and the global executive director of the MAC AIDS Fund, the cosmetics company’s charitable arm. Through the fund, she pledged a commitment to the Clinton Global Initiative in 2008. The MAC AIDS Fund ultimately donated between $1 and $5 million to the Clinton Foundation.

Mahon was appointed to the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS and elevated to chairperson in December 2011, after launching a public-private partnership with the State Department in June.

Clinton thanked "all our friends" at MAC when announcing the partnership to combat gender-based violence in South Africa on June 2, 2011.

"Soon we will expand this work through a new partnership with the MAC AIDS Foundation," Clinton said. "This is a foundation that is well known to me. I’ve had the privilege of working with it in the past."

Mahon was sworn in as the chairperson of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, or PACHA, on Dec. 2, 2011.

Though they receive no salary, council members are classified as "special Government employees," according to PACHA’s charter, and have their travel costs reimbursed by the government.

As a special government employee, Mahon would have been subject to an ethics agreement in place to prevent "conflicts of interest."

"The Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch are applicable to individuals who are appointed as public members of Federal advisory committees," according to a Department of Health and Human Services notice on the council in 2009. "Individuals appointed to serve as public members of Federal advisory committees are classified as special Government employees (SGEs). SGEs are Government employees for purposes of the conflict of interest laws. Therefore, individuals appointed to serve as public members of HHS are subject to an ethics review."

"The ethics review is conducted to determine if the individual has any interests and/or activities in the private sector that may conflict with performance of their official duties as a member of the Council," the agency said. "Individuals appointed to serve as public members of the Council will be required to disclose information regarding financial holdings, consultancies, and research grants and/or contracts."

Mahon, who met with Clinton before the announcement of the partnership, was not the only Estée Lauder executive to meet with Clinton, according to the AP. Fabrizio Freda, the company’s president and CEO, met with Clinton at a Wall Street event. Estée Lauder has donated between $100,000 and $250,000 to the Clinton Foundation, including a contribution made this year.

The Presidential Advisory Council and MAC AIDS Fund did not immediately respond to request for comment.

Update 11:41 a.m.: Following publication, an HHS spokesperson said Mahon completed ethics training and that her term expires in 2016.