New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton got results as the city’s top cop, driving down crime under two mayors. But Bratton, who announced his resignation from the force on Tuesday, might put his reputation as a GOP golden boy at risk with new job at a secretive consulting firm founded by some of the Clinton family’s shadiest cronies.
After he officially steps down from the force in September, Bratton will lead a new risk-management division at consulting firm Teneo Holdings—a “dream job,” he told The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday. (He didn’t say how many gazillions of dollars they offered.) But the Teneo dream might be a well-funded fantasy, some of the company’s critics allege.
Teneo—which bills itself as a nebulous consulting network on everything from corporate communications to investment banking—is a revolving door for Clinton staffers and Clinton money. Teneo employees have been accused of treating Clinton fundraisers like recruitment fairs, abusing state ties to get clients hired into plush government gigs, and leveraging the Clinton name to score big contracts. The company is so intertwined with the Clintons that some accuse its founders of tacitly marketing the firm as a means of accessing the political power family: pay for Teneo services and make Clinton connections in return.
It’s an awfully strange set of bedfellows for a cop who’s been lauded for decades for his leadership in New York, Boston, and Los Angeles. For a while, there was even a rumor going around that the British Prime Minister wanted him to lead London’s police department—a job not ordinarily offered to yanks. But that’s how good Bratton’s reputation is.
We’ll see if he can hold onto that image in his new racket.
Teneo is the product of two close Clinton advisers: Bill Clinton confidante Doug Band, and Hillary Clinton envoy and fundraiser Declan Kelly. Other Clinton power-players have also held roles with the firm: Huma Abedin, Hillary’s right-hand woman and current campaign vice-chair was on Teneo’s payroll in 2012, in addition to her role at the state department.
Even Bill Clinton has had a long and evolving relationship with Teneo, first working as a paid adviser to the firm, then serving as an “unpaid adviser” and a Teneo client simultaneously, spokesperson Matt McKenna told Politico in 2012.
During this time, Teneo acted as pro bono public relations arm for the now-controversial Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative, a series of fundraising efforts and forums for international leaders.
“In addition to representing President Clinton personally, Teneo will continue to work on a pro bono basis to expand participation in the Clinton Global Initiative and support for the Clinton Foundation’s activities around the world,” McKenna said in 2012.
Teneo services don’t come cheap; monthly retainer fees with the firm can run up to $250,000, The New York Times reported in 2013. But Teneo and the Clinton Global Initiative share an architect in Doug Band.
Band began work for the Clinton family in 1995, when he arrived at the White House as an unpaid intern, later becoming a deputy assistant and eventually the President’s aide. When Clinton left the White House, Band stuck around the family in a counselor’s role, where Clinton credits him for crafting the idea for the Clinton Global Initiative in 2005.
It’s difficult to determine when Teneo officially launched. Co-founder Declan Kelly filed articles of organization for a “Teneo Strategy Consulting LLC” in November 2009, though the company appears to have lain dormant at the time. Two months earlier, Hillary Clinton had named Kelly the U.S.’s Special Envoy to Northern Ireland, a role he served until 2011, after which Teneo began operating in earnest. Its marketing strategy relied heavily on Clinton connections, with Band at Teneo’s helm.
In 2012, Band organized a meeting of global heavyweights—including Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, CEOs, hedgefunders, and Hollywood A-listers—in the ballroom of his lux Manhattan apartment building. The night was ostensibly a summit on geopolitical issues, convened under the name of the Clinton Global Initiative. But for Teneo, it doubled as a sales pitch.
Before the speakers arrived onstage, Band launched into lengthy presentation on his company, complete with a promotional video on Teneo’s services. (“It was unnecessarily inappropriate,” an anonymous guest told the New Republic. “It was flagrant.”)
The night was hardly an isolated incident. Those who wished to gain access to Clinton circles came to understand that Teneo clients enjoyed a privileged relationship with the family.
A "person close to the [Clinton] foundation says that one major donor complained directly to Clinton that he had been writing large checks to Band and was upset that his access to Clinton had decreased,” The New Republic reported in 2013.
Teneo’s staff list and client list began to closely resemble Clinton circles.
Bill Clinton was both a Teneo client and an adviser. Huma Abedin held roles with the company and with the State Department, inspiring a Republican-led investigation in 2015, over a 2012 email from Band. In the email (subject line “She is expecting us to help her get appointed to this”) Band asks Abedin to secure a White House role for Teneo client Judith Rodin.
“This is a troubling example of Teneo and the Clinton Foundation seeking State Department help for a Teneo client and Clinton Foundation supporter,” Sen. Chuck Grassley said of the email, though Rodin did not receive the requested position.
Declan Kelly, a Teneo co-founder, has also been accused of building the company on his insider access with the Clintons. Kelly, an Irish businessman, was a prominent donor to Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign. After Clinton’s defeat and appointment as Secretary of State, she picked her former fundraiser as the U.S.’s Special Envoy to Northern Ireland. Clinton granted Kelly expanded privileges as an envoy, an act Kelly downplayed by accepting no pay for the role.
But even while he refused a State Department paycheck, Kelly was making money in his government capacity. While acting as envoy, Kelly was laying the groundwork for Teneo, registering the company as an LLC in 2009. He kept in touch with companies connected to Clinton charities like Coca Cola and Dow Chemical, the latter of which paid Kelly $2.4 million in consulting fees during his tenure as envoy, Politico reports. This lucrative partnership also raised Kelly’s professional profile. Dow agreed to open a supply chain office in Belfast, a development Hillary Clinton praised during a 2010 State conference in Northern Ireland, organized by Kelly.
In May 2011, when Kelly’s non-compete clause with another consulting firm expired, he quit his envoy post, launching Teneo as a full-fledged company with Band and their partner Paul Keary. Many of the company’s clients were familiar faces in Clinton charity circles.
Clinton Global Initiative-affiliated corporations signed up for Teneo’s advising services. For at least one of these companies, Teneo’s connections literally came with the contract.
A 2012 contract with Dow Chemical describes Teneo’s role, in part, as providing “access to and key relationships as well as connection with key influencers,” according to a copy of the deal obtained by Reuters.
Another crossover client is the scandal-plagued FIFA, which bought Teneo’s public relations services in 2015, and which has donated between $50,001 and $100,000 to the Clinton Foundation. (Band has previously lobbied FIFA as director of the U.S.’s failed bid to host the 2022 World Cup.)
Bratton’s official role with Teneo is opaque as the rest of the company’s ambiguous advising services. He will be heading up the company’s new risk-management wing, working with powerful clients for an income “that couldn’t be refused” he told The Wall Street Journal.
“The role will be focused on advising CEOs in the Fortune 100, Fortune 500 in the wide range of risk issues that CEOs face today,” Bratton said during a Tuesday appearance on CNBC.
Bratton, who left the NYPD with his reputation unscarred despite a growing series of scandals there, joins recent the a growing portfolio of Teneo’s high-profile new hires, including former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell and former British Foreign Secretary Lord William Hague. In these advisers, clients will have connections to some of the world’s most powerful retirees—and possibly, come November, connections in the world’s most powerful office.