Watchdog Group Sues State Department for Clinton Aides’ Ethics Documents

Judicial Watch seeks documents about Huma Abedin, Cheryl Mills

Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton / AP

A government watchdog group is suing the State Department to release employment and ethics records for two of Hillary Clinton’s top aides, the organization announced on Wednesday.

Judicial Watch is seeking documents related to the employment of Clinton’s chief of staff Cheryl Mills and adviser Huma Abedin, after the State Department declined to turn over the records in response to a public information request filed by the watchdog group in August.

Judicial Watch is asking the State Department to turn over "certificates of divestiture; individual waivers or any other applicable ethics statues, regulations, guidelines or agreements" related to Mills’ employment.

Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton criticized the State Department for failing to turn over the requested documents earlier.

"The State Department is breaking federal transparency law to provide cover for Mrs. Clinton and those who are now working for the Clintons: Huma Abedin, vice chairwoman of the campaign; and Cheryl Mills, member of the board of directors for the Clinton Foundation," said Fitton. "It shouldn’t take untold months and a federal lawsuit to get the Obama administration to turn over a dozen forms about top officials. This is another cover-up."

Mills simultaneously worked for New York University’s Abu Dhabi-based campus and as Clinton’s chief of staff at the State Department between January and May of 2009, the Washington Free Beacon first reported in June.

The State Department told the Free Beacon that Mills was employed by the department as an unpaid consultant at the time, although she was identified as Clinton’s chief of staff in internal government emails and cables.

Mills also served on the board of the Clinton Foundation for over a month after joining the State Department.

Huma Abedin had a similar arrangement in 2012, in which she was granted "special government employee" status that allowed her to hold outside employment while also working for the State Department.

Mills reportedly signed off on Abedin’s special government employee status, and Clinton was listed as the official supervising the decision, according to documents obtained by Judicial Watch in September.

While the aides’ employment status allowed them to avoid certain ethics rules, they would still be subject to federal conflict of interest laws that prohibited them from participating in matters that could financially benefit their outside employers.

Mills told the Washington Post in October that she did not "recall any issues" that would have required her to recuse herself while she was working for both the State Department and NYU.

In addition to serving on the board of NYU’s Abu Dhabi campus—which is funded by the government of the United Arab Emirates—Mills also worked as NYU’s general counsel during her first few months at the State Department, earning $198,000.

Mills joined the State Department in January 2009. She continued to serve on the board of the Clinton Foundation until March 2009, the foundation told the Free Beacon.

Mills was part of a small group of State Department officials involved in the vetting process for Bill Clinton’s paid speaking requests during this time, according to internal emails obtained by Judicial Watch. An ethics agreement between Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration required Bill Clinton to get State Department approval for paid speaking engagements in order to prevent conflicts of interest.