Hillary Clinton is facing controversy over the appointment to a sensitive State Department intelligence advisory board of a Clinton Foundation donor who also served as a financial bundler for Clinton’s campaigns.
Businessman Rajiv K. Fernando seems to have no obvious qualification to serve on the International Security Advisory Board (ISAB), which, according to its charter, provides the State Department with “independent insight and advice on all aspects of arms control, disarmament, nonproliferation, international security, and related aspects of public diplomacy.”
Fernando’s position on the board came with top secret security clearance and provided him with access to highly sensitive U.S. government information.
Emails obtained by the conservative Citizens United group under a Freedom of Information Act show that after ABC News sent inquiries on the matter, Clinton’s staff worked to “protect the name” of Clinton, and “stall” the news network in its reportage on the matter. Days later, Fernando resigned from the board, claiming he did not have any more time to spare due to work constraints.
Following requests for comment on his July 2011 appointment, State Department official Jamie Mannina sent an August 15, 2011 email expressing concern about the issue. “We must protect the secretary’s and under secretary’s name, as well as the integrity of the board. I think it’s important to get down to the bottom of this before there’s any response,” he wrote, in the email released by Citizens United.
An email response by Clinton aide Wade Boese reveals that Fernando was added to the board at Clinton’s insistence by Clinton’s then-chief of staff Cheryl Mills.
“The true answer is that S staff (Cheryl Mills) added him. The board’s membership preceded me. Raj was not on the list sent to S; he was added at their insistence,” Boese wrote. According to ABC News, “S” was commonly used to refer to Clinton.
Another telling email was sent in response to an ABC News inquiry regarding another board appointee, Rep. Harold P. Naughton, Jr. ABC News reported:
Boese wrote to Hartman to say the department would have a far easier time explaining Naughton’s credentials. “The case for Rep. Naughton is an easy one. We are on solid ground,” he said.
In 2011 and 2012, ABC News sought answers from Fernando himself:
Fernando himself would not answer questions from ABC News in 2011 about what qualified him for a seat on the board or led to his appointment. When ABC News finally caught up with Fernando at the 2012 Democratic convention, he became upset and said he was “not at liberty” to speak about it. Security threatened to have the ABC News reporter arrested.
Fernando’s expertise appeared to be in the arena of high-frequency trading — a form of computer-generated stock trading. At the time of his appointment, he headed a firm, Chopper Trading, that was a leader in that field.
ABC News reports on Fernando’s longtime financial support to Clinton and Democrats:
He was an early supporter of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 bid for president, giving maximum contributions to her campaign, and to HillPAC, in 2007 and 2008. He also served as a fundraising bundler for Clinton, gathering more than $100,000 from others for her White House bid. After Barack Obama bested Clinton for the 2008 nomination, Fernando became a major fundraiser for the Obama campaign.
Prior to his State Department appointment, Fernando had given between $100,000 and $250,000 to the William J. Clinton Foundation, and another $30,000 to a political advocacy group, WomenCount, that indirectly helped Hillary Clinton retire her lingering 2008 campaign debts by renting her campaign email list.
Fernando was also reportedly one of Obama’s top 2012 financial bundlers, raising at least $500,000 for Obama’s reelection bid.
In May 2015, Clinton attended a fundraiser at Fernando’s Chicago home.
Like Bill Clinton, Fernando’s father C K Fernando, was a Fulbright Scholar. C K Fernando founded an NGO that first received recognition from the Bill Clinton White House. C K Fernando served as chairman of Sri Lankan Americans for President Obama in 2009.
Fernando’s name, meanwhile, does not appear on the State Department’s list of former ISAB board members.
Former CIA Director James Woolsey, who served on the ISAB board from 2006 to 2009, elaborated on the seriousness of the information to which board members were exposed. “Most things that involve nuclear weapons and nuclear strategy are dealt with at a pretty sensitive basis — top secret,” he said, telling ABC News that the meetings take place in a secure facility.
With research by Brenda J. Elliott.
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.