Double-Dipping

07.25.13

Senator Calls for Further Investigation Into Huma’s Money

As her husband is raked over the coals for sexting, a senator is calling for an investigation into the consulting fees Abedin earned while working at the State Department. Josh Rogin reports.

Huma Abedin, the wife of New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner, a.k.a. Carlos Danger, is facing an ongoing Senate investigation into the consulting fees she earned while also working as a State Department employee for then-secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has been investigating Abedin’s activities as a paid consultant while she was still working for Clinton toward the end of her tenure. In June 2012, Abedin changed her employment status at the State Department from being a full-time employee with the title of deputy chief of staff to being a “special government employee,” a type of contractor that allowed her to take on private clients in addition to her government job that included Hillary Clinton’s post–State Department transition team, the William J. Clinton Foundation, and Teneo Holdings, a firm run by Clinton confidant Doug Band.

Abedin’s change in employment status was exposed in a June article in Politico, which reported that Abedin and Weiner reported income of $490,000 in calendar year 2012, $360,000 of which represented a combination of both of their consulting incomes.

Grassley has been pressing the State Department and Abedin to answer a slew of questions over the arrangement ever since.

“It appears that Teneo may have been compensating Ms. Abedin for gathering information from government sources for the purpose of informing investment decisions of her clients—or in other words, political intelligence,” Grassley wrote in a June 13 letter. “This raises important questions about whether her dual role was adequately disclosed to government officials who may have provided her information without realizing that she was being paid by private investors to gather information.”

Video screenshot

Late night comedians poked fun at Weiner and Abedin following their press conference.

Today, Grassley released responses that the State Department and Abedin provided on July 17 to his inquiries.

The State Department confirmed that Abedin served as a “special government employee” from June 3, 2012, until February 1, 2013, which seems to violate the statutory limit of 130 days that a person is allowed to serve with that status. Abedin’s duties during that time included “advising and participating in planning for the secretary’s schedule and travel.”

In a letter from Abedin to the State Department dated July 5, Abedin said she chose to become a consultant so that she could spend more time in New York with her family following the birth of her son in December 2011.

Abedin also denied that there was any conflict of interest between her work with Teneo and her work at the State Department during her time a “special government employee.”

“I was not asked, nor did I undertake, any work on Teneo’s behalf before the department (and I should note that it is my understanding that Teneo does not conduct business with the Department of State),” she wrote. “I also was not asked, nor did I provide, insights about the department, my work with the secretary, or any government information to which I may have had access.”

Grassley was not satisfied by the State Department and Abedin’s responses. Thursday he pledged in a statement to continue to look into the arrangement, demanded more thorough answers, and said that the use of “special government employees” needed a full review.

“The purpose of my inquiry is to shed light on whether the program is being used as intended, not just by Ms. Abedin, but more broadly, as well. The State Department and Ms. Abedin should be willing to show the documents involved in administering the program to demonstrate good stewardship of tax dollars and the public interest,” he said. “So far, the State Department and Ms. Abedin haven’t provided a single document that I requested. Putting up a stone wall raises a lot more questions about how the program is being used than it answers.  I intend to pursue more complete answers to my questions.”