U.S. Taxpayers Funded Clinton’s Private Email Servers through ‘Former Presidents Act’*
The Act was intended as financial aid to former presidents. © Mike Segar / Reuters
The private email server used by Hillary Clinton during her time as secretary of state was paid for by taxpayer money set aside as aid for former presidents. An investigation found the Former Presidents Act was used to fund the Clinton Foundation and business associates.
Passed in 1958, the same year former President Harry Truman had to sell the family farm to avoid “practically” being on relief, the Act was intended to “maintain the dignity” of former presidents.
Flash forward to 2016, and an investigation carried out by Politico revealed the act is abused by Bill Clinton, who since 2001 has requested more than $16 million under the Act, more than any other living former president.
IT equipment including servers housed at the Clinton Foundation were purchased with funds from the Act, despite the Clintons becoming multimillionaire members of the ‘1 percent’ through book deals, speeches and consultancies following Bill’s time as president.
The Act was not intended for such purposes, instead operating as an assistance fund to former presidents as they transition out of office in order to avoid a repeat of Truman’s struggle.
The servers purchased by this fund would later be used for a private email account for Hillary Clinton’s use during her time as secretary of state.
Former Bill Clinton aide Justin Cooper, who assisted Hillary in setting up the private email server, had his earnings supplemented with proceeds provided under the Act, from February 2011 through to 2013.
During this period, Cooper was also working on the launch of Teneo, a consultancy firm which paid Bill Clinton $3.5 million to be its “honorary chairman.” Targeted at CEOs, the firm charged fees as high as $250,000 per month for its services. Their proximity to the Clintons gave them an ideal environment to attract wealthy clients.
Declan Kelly, appointed by Hillary Clinton as economic envoy to Northern Ireland in 2009, also worked with Cooper on the launch of Teneo. Kelly would go on to become the firm’s CEO a month after leaving his state post.
Bill Clinton and Tony Blair both worked as paid advisors for Teneo, along with Hillary Clinton’s longtime aide and confidante Huma Abedin, who worked as a consultant while serving as a top advisor to the secretary of state.
Full federal employee benefits, including health and life insurance along with pensions, were the key reason for adding people to the GSA payroll, sources told Politico. This allowed the Clintons to avoid paying benefits to their overlapping staff.
Politico found that those who had their earnings supplemented by the federal payments received roughly $10,000 a year.
According to the Clinton Foundation’s website, a wall exists between them and the ex-president’s office.
“All Foundation employees are paid for work through the Foundation payroll. No Foundation staff are paid for Foundation work with taxpayer dollars,” it reads on the clintonfoundation.org.
On several occasions, the GSA responded to requests from Clinton asking him to clarify if it was for his office or the Clinton Foundation. According to Politico, equipment was purchased and housed for a period of time at the foundation’s premises, on at least one occasion.
The information was uncovered via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request which also unveiled the Clintons had a problem with bed bugs.
When Clinton made a request for a bed bug removal service the GSA asked,
“Is there currently a bed bug issue…or is the request for some type of on-going maintenance services?” The answer was disappointingly not released under the Act.
Politico said the investigation did not reveal anything illegal, but that it did offer
“fresh evidence of how the Clintons blurred the line between their nonprofit foundation, Hillary Clinton’s State Department, and the business dealings of Bill Clinton and the couple’s aides.”
An aide to Bill Clinton told Politico that his use of the program was entirely consistent with the Act and that his staffing reflected his dual roles as former president and founder of the Clinton Foundation.