By Bonnie K. Goodman
It is possible the Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton blurred the lines with her husband’s Bill Clinton’s foundation while she was serving as Secretary of State. According to a CNN investigation report released on Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016, Clinton’s Chief of Staff and longtime aide Cheryl Mills interviewed two candidates in 2012 for a high position at the Clinton Foundation.
In 2009, as Clinton was set to become Secretary of State to she created guidelines about the Clinton Foundation to ensure that it does not “create conflicts or the appearance of conflicts for Senator Clinton as Secretary of State.”
Recent emails, however, released by Conservative Watchdog Group Judicial Watch and CNN investigation prove otherwise. The emails indicate that Clinton’s top aides at the State Department Mills and Huma Abedin, another longtime aide who served as Deputy Chief of Staff may have blurred the lines between their positions at the State Department and the Clinton Foundation showing possible “corruption.”
According to the report, on June 19, 2012, Mills, still serving as Clinton’s Secretary of State Chief of Staff at the State Department took an Amtrak train from Washington to New York. There at executive search firm Mills interviewed two business executives “one from Pfizer and another from Wal-Mart” for the position leading the Clinton Foundation. Both companies are donors to the foundation and “partner” with the Clinton Global Initiative.
Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon downplayed any connection, saying in a statement on Thursday, “Cheryl volunteered her personal time to a charitable organization, as she has to other charities. Cheryl paid for her travel to New York City personally, and it was crystal clear to all involved that this had nothing to do with her official duties. The idea that this poses a conflict of interest is absurd.” Mill’s lawyer also claims that she did the work voluntarily, was not paid and did not use government funds for the trip.
The Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Republican Chuck Grassley of Iowa also wants real answers about Mills trip and her involvement in the job search. In January, Grassley sent current Secretary of State John Kerry a letter requesting further explanations about Mill’s actions but never received a response.
Scott Amey, “an attorney for the Project on Government Oversight,” believes the State Departments needs to provide answers and be accountable to Congress on this potential corruption and abuse of power. Amey stated, “Congress has a rightful right to ask for any information that it wants to from the executive branch of government to keep track of them. And the government should be turning that information over, when you have a breakdown in that system, we have a breakdown in our democracy.”
CNN asked the State Department if Mills had permission or needed it to do what she did with the Clinton Foundation job search. The department responded, “Federal employees are permitted to engage in outside personal activities, within the scope of the federal ethics rules. All federal employees are subject to federal ethics laws and regulations, including rules pertaining to conflicts of interest.”
Mills’ actions are not so innocent. Mills has a long history with both Clintons, and her loyalties have been with them. According to CNN during the first Clinton Administration, Mills served as Deputy White House counsel and defended Bill during his Congressional impeachment hearings. During Hillary’s first run for president in 2008 Mills was her senior legal campaign adviser. Mills also served on the board of the Clinton Foundation before leaving her post at the State Department, after the brief interlude, she is again serving on the board.