September 23, 2013

Investigative Report Highlights Pattern Of Selling Access In Clinton World

A new investigative story in The New Republic by Alex MacGillis focuses on Douglas Band, the top aide to former President Bill Clinton during his post-presidency, and the cozy and often conflicted relationships between clients of his firm Teneo Consulting, and the Clintons’ charitable network. BuzzFeed’s Ben Smith notes, “At its core is the charge … that the former president did specific favors for big donors … opens what’s likely to be an intense line of inquiry for reporters leading to 2016, and puts his finger on why: How the ‘messier aspects’ of the charity’ could get in the way of Hillary Clinton’s ambitions.” From the piece:

Doug has always been reasonably commercial, let’s just say,’ says his former White House colleague. ‘He was a gatekeeper who charged tolls.’ And questions were surfacing about some of the people getting through the gate. …

For corporations, attaching Clinton’s brand to their social investments offered a major p.r. boost. As further incentive, they could hope for a kind word from Clinton the next time they landed in a sticky spot. …

Coca-Cola or Dow or whoever would come to the president,’ explains a former White House colleague of Band’s, ‘and say, ‘We need your help on this.’’ Negotiating these relationships, and the trade-offs they required, could involve some gray areas. But for that, Clinton had Band. …

 

What is striking is the extent to which Teneo’s business model depends on his relationship with Clinton. …

Band’s former White House colleague says Teneo is essentially a p.r. firm that is able to charge above-market rates because it persuades executives that Band and the ties he brings are an essential service. ‘If they were paying $25,000 or $40,000 a month for p.r., then $100,000 a month, from the eyes of the CEO, … it’s not going to crush him,’ says the former colleague. (According to The New York Times, Teneo’s monthly fees can be as high as $250,000.) …

The longtime Clinton associate says that Band’s pitch to clients was that he was ‘able to fly around [with Clinton] and decide who flies around with him. … The whole thing is resting on his access.’