A lawsuit has been filed against the State Department demanding information about its cooperation with the Clinton Foundation, as “pay-for-play” allegations swirl around the Democratic candidate and the possibility a Hillary Clinton victory could embroil the presidency in the same activities.
“Answers to these questions are extremely important to the American people, as they involve potential pay-for-play corruption at the highest levels of government. Furthermore, it is critical that government officials, at every level, know that they are not above the law – they are accountable to the people,” the American Center for Law and Justice explained.
ACLJ previously filed several lawsuits over the State Department’s failure to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests, and the latest “ratchets up our litigation efforts against the Obama administration by asking the federal district court in Washington, D.C., to deal with the administration’s pattern and practice of flouting the law.”
“It’s no longer just about getting the records and the truth. We are fighting back against repeated and unabashed lawlessness. We’re now demanding that our federal judiciary get to the core of the problem here – where the Obama administration claims openness and transparency, it continues to practice a pattern of lawless corruption,” the group said.
ACLJ said the information already obtained raises more questions.
“Our friends at Judicial Watch uncovered key emails that showed requests for special treatment. Our FOIA requests take the next step: What happened next?” the ACLJ said.
“Here’s a summary of what we know. In one set of emails, Doug Band, a senior Clinton Foundation official, forwarded a request for ‘a favor’ for someone who apparently had joined former-President Bill Clinton and United Nations Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon on an infamous trip to Haiti in 2009. That person’s name was redacted.
“‘Important to take care of [redacted],’ says Band.
“Then Secretary Clinton’s top aide at the State Department, Huma Abedin, responds: ‘Personnel has been sending him options.’
“And in a different set of emails with the same players, we learned that the Clinton Foundation – on behalf of a businessman who had donated between $1 to $5 million to the Clinton Foundation – asked for access to the State Department’s ‘substance person’ for Lebanon,” ACLJ explained.
“Why did the Clinton Foundation donor need access to the State Department’s ‘substance person’ on Lebanon? What resulted from that access?” the group asked.
“As to the other email chain, what was the ‘favor’ the unknown person asked for? Why did the Clinton Foundation official insist to State Department officials that it was ‘[i]mportant to take care of’ that person? What ‘options’ had State Department ‘personnel’ been offering that person, and why? What happened after the Clinton Foundation applied pressure for favors – apparently above and beyond the ‘options’ he had already been offered?”
ACLJ explained in the complaint that it wanted “records, communication or briefings created, generated, forwarded, transmitted, sent, shared, received, or reviewed by Jeffrey David Feltman” referencing several subjects.
The subjects include Gilbert Chagoury, Chagoury Group, Grand Moulins du Benin; Port Harcourt Flour Mills, Ideal Flour Mills, Nigerian Eagle Flour Mills, Niger Delta Flour Mills, Tin Can Island, Ragolis Waters, Glassforce, Pirotech, Silhouette Furniture, Ideal Eagle Hospital, C&C Construction, ITB Construction, Hitech Construction, Felltwood Transportation, Eko Atlantic, Ocean Parade, Eko Hotel, The Clinton Foundation, The Clinton Global Initiative, The Clinton Health Access Initiative and the Clinton Climate Initiative.
The information had been requested through FOIA, but the State Department ignored its obligations to respond, the complaint contends.
“Defendant has a reputation for flaunting and disregarding its public accountability and FOIA obligations. For example, plaintiff has filed two prior FOIA lawsuits against defendant over its failure to respond as required by statute. … In [one] case, after it received plaintiff’s FOIA request, defendant publicly announced on June 9, 2016, that it would not comply with requests from the House Oversight Committee for emails concerning [a] deleted or altered video, unilaterally deciding, apparently, that the emails it reviewed ‘aren’t relevant.'”
It seeks a court order that the information will be produced by a certain date.
The Clinton Foundation has been a major focal point of critics of Hillary Clinton. One recent report said less than 6 percent of the foundation’s 2014 budget was used for charitable purposes – with only $5.2 million for grants – and $91.3 million for other expenses, including salaries.
Also, several foreign millionaire and billionaire donors to the foundation have been convicted of criminal charges who have been “treated as international celebrities.”
Independent investigations have concluded the Clintons personally profited from the charity and its donors have given millions of dollars with the expectation they would get access to the secretary of state.
Bill Clinton was paid tens of millions for speeches while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state by states, individuals and organizations lobbying the State Department.
The Clinton Foundation donor conviction list headlines with Nigerian-Lebanese industrialist Gilbert Chagoury, whose name turned up in an email exchange released by Judicial Watch in which Teneo head Doug Band pressed longtime Clinton aide Huma Abedin to put Chagoury in touch with the State Department’s “substance person” on Lebanon.
Chagoury is also notorious for having been denied entry into the United States last year because of suspected terrorist ties as well as for having been placed on the TSA “no-fly” list in 2010.
Chagoury’s name appears near the top in the 2008 list of more than 200,000 donors to the Clinton Foundation. He contributed between $1 million and $5 million in 2008 and again in 2009. He also pledged $1 billion to the Clinton Global Initiative in 2009.
The Wall Street Journal reported in 2008 that Chagoury contributed to Bill Clinton’s 1996 presidential campaign and to Hillary’s 2004 presidential campaign, and paid “a lucrative speaking fee” to the former president.
“I am more than willing to predict, when the history of our day is written, the scandal you are watching unfold is going to be like the Teapot Dome scandal in the 1920s and maybe bigger. It’s going to be bigger than Watergate,” he said at a campaign rally for GOP nominee Donald Trump in Tampa, Florida.
“Nixon had to leave office, and he did a lot of bad things, but it wasn’t raking in millions and millions of dollars through a phony charity,” he said. “I’m not sure how much money was involved in the Teapot Dome, but I bet it could not have been much more than the hundreds of millions of dollars the Clintons have been getting and turning the State Department into a pay-for-play operation.”