Hillary tapped Kris Balderston, the hit list author, to keep the Clinton political network humming at State. A longtime lieutenant to both Clintons, Balderston, who called everyone “buddy,” liked to talk in salesman’s terms about Hillary’s “power to convene” and her commitment to making sure her partners could “do well by doing good.” What he meant was that Hillary could use the Clinton Rolodex to focus private-sector money, government power, and the expertise at colleges and nonprofits to solve global problems. At best, they would do a public service and make a buck. At worst, they would make a powerful friend. Balderston became, for lack of a better term, Hillary’s special ops guy at State.
“It’s more than raising money,” said one source familiar with the concept. “It’s networking other people’s intellectual property, networks, lists, that sort of thing. You need somebody who does more than just raise money.” Just like the Clinton Global Initiative.
But intellectual property and network expansion would have to wait—Hillary needed cash. Balderston was still setting up the office when Hillary approached him at the end of February 2009. “I have the first project for you,” she said. The job: raise more than $60 million from the private sector in nine months. In an era of billion-dollar presidential campaigns, that might not sound like much jack. But the government generally doesn’t raise money from the private sector, in large part because of the potential for corporate donors to give with the expectation that they will get specific government actions in return. Moreover, Congress and the Bush administration had shunned the very initiative Hillary wanted Balderston to execute.