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Irish-run company at centre of Hillary Clinton controversy

US officials are investigating a scheme that allowed a Clinton aide to work for Teneo Holdings, whose CEO is Minister Alan Kelly’s brother Declan.

kelly Declan Kelly, CEO of Teneo and brother of Alan Kelly, in Washington DC, 2010. Source: John Harrison/NI Executive

THE US STATE Department is planning to investigate a controversial arrangement which allowed one of Hillary Clinton’s top aides to work for a US consulting company run by two Irish citizens, including Declan Kelly, the brother of Environment Minister Alan Kelly.

The Inspector General of the State Department (equivalent to the Department of Foreign Affairs), confirmed last week he would examine the use of what’s known as “Special Government Employee” (SGE) status.

It follows two years of controversy surrounding various practices involving Clinton and her staff, during her tenure as Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013.

Background

Obama Medal of Freedom Huma Abedin in 2013. Source: AP/Press Association Images

In 2013, news website Politico revealed that while working at the State department, Huma Abedin, a long-time trusted aide to Clinton, had been consulting for four other entities, including Teneo Holdings, a New York-based firm of which Kelly is CEO.

Teneo, an international strategic consulting firm with strong links to the Clintons, describes itself as “leveraging deep global relationships, experience and intellectual abilities” and being “at the centre of information and networks.”

Two of its three founders are Irish.

The revelation that a senior Clinton advisor had been paid an undisclosed amount to consult for the firm provoked concerns about a potential conflict of interest.

Abedin strongly denied this, however, writing that while working for the firm, she “was not asked, nor did [she] provide, insights about the Department, my work with the Secretary, or any government information to which I may have had access.”

Teneo Holdings 

declankelly Declan Kelly (far right) with Hillary Clinton, Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson in New York in 2009. Source: US State Department via Flickr

Teneo Holdings was founded in 2011 by Declan Kelly from Portroe, Co Tipperary, Paul Keary, and Doug Band, a long-time legal advisor to Bill Clinton, who helped set up the Clinton Global Initiative in 2005.

Michael Madden is Chairman of Teneo Capital and Restructuring, and a managing partner at Ronoc Financial Solutions in Dublin.

Kelly and Madden have addresses in Portroe and New York, while Keary has an address in Loughrea, Co Galway.

Before starting Teneo, Kelly was appointed by Hillary Clinton as US Economic Envoy to Northern Ireland in 2009, when she was US Secretary of State, and was Executive Vice President of FTI, an international consulting firm with a $2 billion market capitalisation.

Paul Keary, Chief Operating Officer (COO) and co-founder of Teneo, also previously held a senior position at FTI, and worked alongside Kelly at FTI predecessor Financial Dynamics.

Bill Clinton was a paid adviser to Teneo until the end of 2011, when he became a “friend and unpaid adviser to Teneo and its founders,” according to a spokesperson.

At that time, Teneo also took on the Clinton Global Initiative as a client.

Federal Election Commission documents show that Kelly, Keary, and Band have donated a combined $146,700  to Democratic party candidates and committees, including $30,700 to those relating to Hillary Clinton, since 2007.

During Clinton’s bid for the presidency in 2007 and 2008, Declan Kelly reportedly organised events in New York (at the home of Gabriel Byrne), San Francisco and Limerick, which raised close to $1 million.

This video shows Kelly introducing Bill Clinton at an awards ceremony in Dublin in 2010.

Source: businessandfinance10/YouTube

There is no evidence of any fundraising, donations, or services provided by Teneo executives to the State Department or Hillary Clinton during her time as Secretary of State, or during the period of Abedin’s work for them.

However, the relationship between the company and the Clintons, and in particular Abedin’s consulting work, has been cited by Republicans as a potential point of attack during Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, which was formally announced last Sunday.

Republican attacks will only get more aggressive as the contest intensifies, as Niall O’Dowd, influential publisher of the Irish Central website in New York, and friend of the Clintons, told TheJournal.ie.

They will throw the kitchen sink at her, and the dresser too. But I’m betting it’s all warmed over conspiracies well past their sell-by date.

Holder Congress Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa Source: AP/Press Association Images

Nonetheless, the recent revelation that Hillary Clinton had used the private email server clintonemail.com to conduct official business while Secretary of State, has added fuel to that fire.

It has been reported that Huma Abedin, who is the wife of disgraced former US Congressman Anthony Weiner, also availed of an email address at the Clinton server.

The conservative group Citizens United last month began suing the State Department for failing to respond to Freedom of Information requests for email exchanges between Abedin, Kelly, Keary and Band, among other Clinton aides and Teneo staff.

Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, chair of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee, resumed a long-running campaign for transparency on the issue last month, writing:

A number of conflict of interest concerns arise when a government employee is simultaneously being paid by a private company, especially when that company, Teneo, “brings together the disciplines of government and public affairs.”
Moreover, these concerns are heightened when high level employees, such as Ms. Abedin, may have used non-government email accounts to engage in both government and private business.

On Thursday, State Department Inspector General Steve Linick responded to Grassley, stating that his office would be investigating the Special Government Employee program used by Abedin to consult for Teneo.

The purpose of the probe will be “to determine if it conforms to applicable legal and policy requirements, including whether or not the program, as implemented, includes safeguards against conflicts of interest.”

TheJournal.ie requested comment from Declan Kelly and the other co-founders of Teneo Holdings, through the company, as well as from the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton. Neither responded to those requests.

Read: Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign could be in trouble because of her choice of email account>

Read: Disgraced US congressman Anthony Weiner says he will resign>

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About the author:

Dan MacGuill

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