Hillary Clinton appointed a former fundraiser to a special position at the State Department while he was laying the foundation for what would soon become a multi-million dollar global consulting firm with connections to former president Bill Clinton, Politico reported Wednesday.
Six months after Hillary Clinton was sworn into office as secretary of state in 2009, she moved to hire Declan Kelly to serve as her economic envoy to Northern Ireland and tasked him with encouraging business to invest in the region.
Kelly was brought on as a "special government employee," a rare status typically designated for individuals with specialized skills, like scientists, which allowed him to receive cash from private firms.
Kelly, a businessman born into poverty in Ireland, did not take a salary from State Department. He employed five additional staffers through his own funding and worked to advance Hillary Clinton’s goal of spurring U.S. companies to invest in the nation.
But Politico’s findings highlighted another aspect of Kelly’s work during his time at the State Department that extended far beyond "public service."
While serving as Clinton’s special envoy, reaching out to global corporations for those investments, he was also working for two of them as a private consultant–earning about $2.4 million from Dow Chemical, a longtime client of his and one of the firms that participated in Clinton’s Ireland initiative. It was also during this time period that Kelly and Doug Band, a close aide to former President Bill Clinton, were preparing to launch a global consulting business that would soon become a well-known and controversial success story. Their new venture, Teneo Holdings, would go on to employ numerous Clinton associates including her closest confidante Huma Abedin and, for a time, Bill Clinton as "honorary chairman," giving clients rare access to the couple and their network of world leaders.
Kelly met Band–Bill Clinton’s former advisor who was referred to as his surrogate son–in 2008 while he was campaigning for Hillary Clinton’s first presidential bid.
Politico revealed that while Kelly was serving with the State Department, he and Band were working together to "lay the groundwork" for their consulting firm, shedding new light on the overlapping ties between Hillary Clinton’s "political network" and government duties.
In October 2010, Hillary Clinton praised her economic envoy for successfully persuading U.S. companies to invest in Northern Ireland, creating "more than 1,000 new jobs" in the region. One of those companies included consulting firm Dow Chemical, which was a longtime client of Kelly’s.
"I appointed Declan [Kelly] to this post in September 2009, and just a little more than a year later, I think, it proves the wisdom of that appointment," Clinton said during a State conference.
In the meantime, Kelly, Band, and longtime associate Paul Keary launched individual consulting firms that would ultimately merge together as Teneo. The three businessmen worked across their individual firms to "woo" clients and employees while Kelly still retained special access to Hillary Clinton as a diplomatic envoy.
Many of the clients who ended up signing with Keary "overlapped with Bill Clinton’s work," according to Politico.
Kelly resigned from his State Department position in May 2011. Politico reported that the next month, "he, Band, and Keary publicly announced Teneo, moving all their offices, employees, and already impressive client roster into one location."
Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, never filled the special envoy vacancy left by Kelly.
Soon after launch, Teneo hired Bill Clinton as a paid advisor. The firm solicited donations for the Clinton Foundation and coordinated high-paid speaking opportunities for the former president.