WASHINGTON D.C.—Former top Hillary Clinton aides Cheryl Mills and Jean-Louis Warnholz are quietly cashing in on State Department intelligence that Clinton received from her adviser Sidney Blumenthal about an energy crisis in Africa.
Breitbart News has learned that Mills and Warnholz are racing toward a big payday, shipping cargo in Tanzania after Clinton “discreetly” helped her American friends’ companies move in on the area’s untapped energy market during her time as Secretary of State. It’s a prime example of the legal but dubious ways that Clinton and her associates used the power of the State Department to pad their own wallets in the private sector after Clinton left the department.
Top Clinton State Department aide Cheryl Mills is the founder and CEO of BlackIvy Group, a small and mysterious energy investment firm headquartered inside a Microsoft building in the Washington D.C. suburb of Chevy Chase, Maryland. Jean-Louis Warnholz became the founding principal and managing director of BlackIvy Group in 2013 after three years as a senior adviser to Clinton at the State Department. He previously worked for progressive billionaire George Soros’s Soros Economic Development Fund.
“BlackIvy is developing a privately-financed dry port that will be located 56 km outside of the Port of Dar es Salaam, and will use shuttle trains to take transit and upcountry cargo to and from the Port,” BlackIvy spokeswoman Erin Pelton confirmed to Breitbart News.
“BlackIvy is focused on in-land logistics, not operating seaports,” Pelton added, denying that BlackIvy is running into opposition from the Tanzania Ports Authority.
So how did BlackIvy, a brand new firm with no discernible track record of building ports, manage to become an overnight player in the East African energy market?
It turns out Clinton’s former aides had some help from a company called Symbion Power, which was created to profit off rebuilding efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan after the U.S. invasions. Symbion Power happens to be a very good friend of Hillary Clinton’s.
Hillary Clinton visited Tanzania in June 2011. Where did she go to speak? The Symbion Power Plant in Dar Es Salaam, where she spoke in front of Symbion and General Electric (GE) logos. Soon after the speech, Clinton intervened in a business deal between Symbion and GE to help Symbion’s interests in Tanzania.
An attendee quietly captured Clinton on video after her speech chatting up business executives, including one from General Electric.
“Hi, Chris. Nice to see you. Thanks for GE’s contributions. I really appreciate it. You’ll have to tell Jeff Immelt — or, I’ll call him to tell him how much I appreciate it,” Clinton said to the General Electric official, referring to the GE CEO.
“You with Mike also? Where are you all headquartered?” Clinton asked another businessman. “Excellent. Good. Very, very cool.”
Clinton’s friendship with Symbion appears to have helped her advisers at BlackIvy.
Warnholz represented BlackIvy Group at an August 2014 forum at Washington’s Grand Hyatt Hotel called, “Doing Business In Tanzania: Accelerating Economic Development And Facilitating Investment.” The forum was hosted by the Corporate Council on Africa, which is chaired by Symbion Power CEO Paul Hinks. The Corporate Council on Africa is an official Symbion partner. Hinks became chairman of the council in 2012.
At the conference, which featured the President of Tanzania Jakaya Kikwete, Warnholz identified a major opportunity for electricity providers in East Africa. Warnholz recommended that Tanzania increase its electricity generation by 75.3 percent. Warnholz said that the East African region must increase its electricity generation by 5.3 percent per year for the rest of the decade—which would be a good trend for BlackIvy.
BlackIvy spokeswoman Pelton denied that BlackIvy is working with Symbion in Tanzania. But it’s not surprising that Symbion CEO Hinks’s group gave BlackIvy access to the Tanzanian president. After all, Clinton started “discreetly” helping out Symbion during her time as Secretary of State.
In October 2009, former ambassador Joe Wilson—husband of Bush administration scandal figure Valerie Plame—wrote a memo to Hillary Clinton in his capacity as a director of Symbion Power. Wilson asked Clinton friend Sidney Blumenthal to pass the memo along to Clinton, which he did.
“I am now working with a serious American engineering and construction company, Symbion Power, that has been hugely successful in Iraq and Afghanistan (on fixed cost contracts). It specializes in power plants, substations and transmission towers and lines,” Wilson wrote. “We think the model is well adapted to Africa and have already begun work on a training center in Tanzania, where we will be bidding on all of the upcoming MCC financed power generation and distribution projects. I have asked Sid to pass a memory stick with a four minute video that explains what Symbion does and how it does it.”
In November 2009, Wilson wrote another memo to Clinton, using Blumenthal as the middle man.
“As I wrote to you earlier, I am a director for Symbion Power and may soon assume more direct responsibility for all of Africa as Symbion expands there from its current operations in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Wilson wrote.
Blumenthal passed the memo along to Hillary Clinton, and Clinton replied with an email that is highly redacted by the State Department.
In July 2011, Wilson, by then chairman of Symbion Africa, sent Clinton an email asking her to intervene in Symbion’s negotiations with General Electric.
Wilson explained that Symbion has “been stymied in our discussions with General Electric over the question of payment guarantees for purchase of the equipment. I know that you mentioned that you were going to call Jeff lmmelt after your trip. When you make that call, I would appreciate your telling him that Symbion, which is already operating a GE plant in Dar can only expand that plant to meet the challenge if GE is prepared to share some of the inherent risk with us and waives the payment guarantee requirement.”
Clinton forwarded the memo to her State Department aide Johnnie Carson, saying, “could you pis find out more info about this for me before I respond?”
“Madame Secretary: I will look into this Wednesday morning and get back to you quickly,” Carson replied.
Carson “discreetly” went through State Department channels to find out more information about the deal.
“I have looked into the issues Amb. Joe Wilson raised in his email and discreetly reached out to our embassy in Dar Es Salaam to provide us With additional background on GE and Symbion operations in Tanzania,” Carson wrote.
“Our Embassy thinks highly of Symbion’s work (you participated in an Embassy organized, MCC supported Symbion event during your visit to Tanzania in June),” Carson added. “The MCC program provided a $110 million contract to Symbion and a conglomerate of other firms, including one other American company, to install power lines and distribution sub stations across southern Tanzania.”
“Recently, two U.S. firms (Richmond and Dowlan) were involved in a corruption scandal, but they left Tanzania a couple of years ago. Symbion purchased the GEmade equipment and power plant that Richmond and Dowlan left behind,” Carson said.
“Tanzania purchases power from Symbion. Symbion needs a large turbine engine to make the power plant fully operational. Only 80 mega watts are used. It can bring on-line an additional 40 megawatts if it can access natural gas resources located near the capital, but would need to build out pipes and other equipment. GE has the technical capacity to assist if it jumps in.”
“GE has opened an office in Dar Es Salaam and is currently considering potential investments. Ambassador Lenhardt is in contact with GE and encouraging the company to get involved,” Carson said.