Hillary Clinton’s top State Department aide Huma Abedin used her government connections to make dinner reservations for a group of businessmen, including the chairman and co-founder of a Clinton-linked private advisory firm that she ended up working for.
But after some confusion the chairman of the advisory firm ended up making the reservations for both her and Clinton, raising serious ethical concerns.
Abedin sent out an email notice that she and Clinton would be in Ireland in December 2012 and invited a group of close contacts to dinner, giving out Clinton’s exact travel schedule and hotel location in the process. The email was marked “confidential” and “may contain privileged information.”
The dinner group featured a mix of State Department staffers, private businessmen close to Clinton, and people whose names were redacted in the State Department’s release of the emails to the group Citizens United.
One of the invited guests was Declan Kelly, the chairman, CEO and co-founder of the private corporate advisory firm Teneo Holdings. Kelly started the firm with former Bill Clinton right-hand man Doug Band. Abedin actively recruited Teneo senior advisor Ken Miller to the firm while on an official State Department trip with Hillary Clinton. Abedin also worked for Teneo in addition to the State Department in late 2012, when the Ireland trip occurred.
Even though the State Department employees were legally prohibited from accepting gifts, the businessmen in the group were eager to impress Clinton with their ability to get dinner reservations.
Fitzpatrick Hotel Group CEO John Fitzpatrick confused things by taking it upon himself to try to get a dinner reservation, telling Abedin, “If you need me to help you with any part of the trip next week, IE host a dinner or reception it [sic] anything else please let me know and I will look after it for you.”
Fitzpatrick threw the dinner planning into confusion.
“I haven’t talked to john about dinner,” Abedin griped to Teneo’s Declan Kelly. “He emailed me this on sat and I never responded. He must have done it on his own.”
“I think he may have phoned a few places. Welcome to Ireland!:” Kelly replied, noting that he called his own place for a reservation.
“Seems the craziness never ends. Our advances have checked out all the restaurants and made reservations as well. Re-welcome to the state department!” Abedin wrote.
Ultimately, Abedin decided to go with the reservation that Teneo’s Declan Kelly made.
“Yes want to hold the residence reservation. They have held the hotel restaurant and chapter 1 as well but I’m telling them to release,” Abedin said.
But in a group email Abedin was at least considerate enough to give BOTH Declan Kelly and also John Fitzgerald credit for the reservation, even though Fitzgerald just kind of confused matters.
“Thanks to John and Declan, we have a reservation at Restaurant 41 at the Residence Club,” Abedin told the group.
But, alas, Hillary was late to the dinner on account of the pesky Russians.
“Hey guys – not sure how much of the press you are following, but hrc has to see the russians about syria,” Abedin informed the group. “Heading to meeting shortly. Please start without her and she’ll get there as soon as she can.”
89 people including civilians and rebel fighters were killed that day in Syrian fighting, mostly in Damascus and the surrounding suburbs.
Federal executive branch employees are strictly prohibited from taking expensive gifts.
“Unless an exception applies, executive branch employees may not accept gifts that are given because of their official positions or that come from certain interested sources,” according to the Office of Government Ethics.
Exceptions to the Gift Rule can be made for “modest refreshments (such as coffee and donuts)” or “items of little intrinsic value.”
An exception can also be made for “a gift motivated solely by a family relationship or personal friendship.” But in the case of the Teneo-State Department summit that exception does not seem to apply.