They Can Pick Up The Tab: Taxpayer Funds Were Used To Subsidize Hillary's Private Email Server

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Sep 01, 2016 2:05 PM
They Can Pick Up The Tab: Taxpayer Funds Were Used To Subsidize Hillary's Private Email Server

So, still feeling that Hillary Clinton hasn’t been transparent with her email server, which has plagued for over a year. Tired of the endless half-truths and lies that have emanated from her campaign’s narrative about her private email server, which has been refuted time and again? Well, it so happens that we may have partially subsidized her private email server. An investigation by Politico found that Bill Clinton used funds from the General Services Administration via the Former President’s Act to help maintain Hillary’s private email server, among other things.

Documents obtained through a FOIA request show that there wasn’t anything illegal—a point that Hillary supporters will point out—but, as Kenneth Vogel wrote, “it does offer fresh evidence of how the Clintons blurred the line between their non-profit foundation.” Funds were also spent on servers to be housed at the Clinton Foundation, with some staffers being given a GSA stipend, while working to keep Hillary’s email server functioning [emphasis mine]:

Bill Clinton's staff used a decades-old federal government program, originally created to keep former presidents out of the poorhouse, to subsidize his family’s foundation and an associated business, and to support his wife’s private email server, a POLITICO investigation has found.

Taxpayer cash was used to buy IT equipment — including servers — housed at the Clinton Foundation, and also to supplement the pay and benefits of several aides now at the center of the email and cash-for-access scandals dogging Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

[…]

The thousands of pages of newly uncovered records reveal sometimes granular detail about how Bill Clinton’s representatives directed the spending of taxpayer cash allocated by the GSA under the Former President’s Act.

The Act authorizes the GSA to fund the pensions, correspondence, support staff and travel of ex-presidents.

[…]

The program supplemented the income of Clinton’s staff, while providing them with coveted federal government benefits, alleviating the need for the Clinton Foundation or other Clinton-linked entities to foot the bill for such benefits. Similarly, Clinton aides got the GSA to pay for computer technology used partly by the foundation.

[…]

An analysis of the records provided by GSA, combined with Clinton Foundation tax returns, found that at least 13 of the 22 staffers who have been paid by GSA to work for Clinton’s personal office also worked for the Clinton Foundation.

[…]

POLITICO pieced together a list of Clinton loyalists who at various times have had their earnings supplemented by federal payments of about $10,000-a-year using funds from the Former Presidents Act.

The list reads like a field guide to Clinton World.

It includes longtime Bill Clinton aide Justin Cooper, who despite not having a security clearance, any apparent training in cyber-security or a job at the State Department, in early 2009 helped set up the private email account that Hillary Clinton would use to send and receive classified information as Secretary of State. Her use of that system was dubbed “extremely careless” by the FBI director. Cooper continued working to maintain Clinton’s private email system — including advising her top aides Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills on attempted hacks — through at least 2012, according to emails released by the State Department.

During some of that period, Cooper was on the GSA payroll, drawing a federal government stipend from February 2011 through 2013, according to the records obtained by POLITICO.

At the same time, though, Cooper was working with Doug Band, a trusted Bill Clinton lieutenant, and Declan Kelly, a top Hillary Clinton fundraiser-turned-State Department official, to launch a global consulting firm called Teneo. It did lucrative work for foundation donors and entities with business before Clinton’s State Department. And it signed a contract reportedly worth $3.5 million with Bill Clinton to serve as a “honorary chairman” (though the former president ultimately kept only $100,000 of that, according to his tax returns and a source familiar with the arrangement). Teneo also paid Abedin as a “senior advisor.”

All the while, Band and Abedin were working together to broker meetings between Secretary of State Clinton and donors to the foundation, where Band served as an official until 2012, drawing a salary that in some years exceeded $111,000-a-year.

Again, nothing illegal, but it’s ethically questionable. Vogel added that the GSA often questioned the invoices relating to bed bud removal services, new furniture, and new IT equipment for the Clinton Foundation. Another point of contention was a $7,700 purchase for a Dell server and other equipment used to maintain a Lockheed Martin Intranet Quorum database system that was used by the former president to handle his correspondences. Vogel added that aides told him that at times, the Foundation staff and the staff of the former president overlap and the database is where the two camps meet. Hence, why the GSA questioned the purchase for its dual role.

It’s these sorts of stories that erode trust in these institutions. Who wouldn’t raise a few eyebrows at the overlap between the two institutions, the $16 million Clinton requested in funds at the beginning of his post- presidency until now, and notion that taxpayer funds were used as subsidize IT support for various Clinton ventures, including Hillary’s unsecure private server that she used for official business as secretary of state. Moreover, it only compounds the ethics issues from the other dealings, some of which resulted in Bill receiving millions of dollars from parties who also had matters before Hillary’s State Department.

Clinton defenders will note the lack of felonious activity. They have said that for months regarding other unflattering stories about Clinton. It hasn’t helped her rehabilitate her image with voters. In fact, it’s reached its lowest point in her public service career that’s spanned a quarter century. She's also taken a nosedive in the polls, with Donald Trump now within striking distance of her. Voters view her dishonest and untrustworthy. The email fiasco and the Foundation don’t help in these matters. It’s the notion that the Clinton Foundation is a hub for the wealthy to cash in on favors with the power couple after a donation is made—and those favors usually being settled somewhere down the line, usually to a great economic benefit to those involved. The fact that the GSA was also used to help grease the Clinton machine is just yet another unseemly episode. And it’s not just conservatives pointing out that the Clinton Foundation has some pretty glaring ethical shortfalls. Editorial boards and reported from The New York Times, USA Today, The Boston Globe, The New Yorker, Slate, and The Daily Beast have called on the power couple needs to either shut down the nonprofit or hand off its major operations to third parties, namely the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.