Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sought to arrange Pentagon and State Department consulting contracts for her daughter’s friend, prompting concerns of federal ethics rules violations.
The FreeBeacon reports:
Clinton in 2009 arranged meetings between Jacqueline Newmyer Deal, a friend of Chelsea Clinton and head of the defense consulting group Long Term Strategy Group, with Pentagon officials that involved contracting discussions, according to emails from Clinton’s private server made public recently by the State Department. Clinton also tried to help Deal win a contract for consulting work with the State Department’s director of policy planning, according to the emails.
Deal is a close friend of Chelsea Clinton, who is vice chair of the Clinton Foundation. Emails between the two were included among the thousands recovered from a private email server used by the secretary of state between 2009 and 2013. Chelsea Clinton has described Deal as her best friend. Both Clintons attended Deal’s 2011 wedding.
Government cronyism, or the use of senior positions to help family friends, is not illegal. However, the practice appears to violate federal ethics rules that prohibit partiality, or creating the appearance of conflicts of interest.
Specifically, the Code of Federal Ethics states that government employees “shall act impartially and not give preferential treatment to any private organization or individual.” Pentagon ethics guidelines also call for avoiding actions that would create even the appearance of improper behavior or conflicts of interest.
The Clinton email exchanges with Deal between 2009 and 2011 were among tens of thousands of private emails made public by the State Department under pressure from Congress and the public interest law firm Judicial Watch.
An FBI investigation concluded in July that Clinton and her aides discussed highly classified information on an unsecure private email server while secretary of state. Investigators also concluded that foreign hostile actors likely hacked the emails. The Justice Department declined to prosecute Clinton based on advice from FBI Director James Comey, who argued that no reasonable prosecutor would try the case.
According to one 2009 email, Clinton said she recommended Deal to Michele Flournoy, the newly installed undersecretary of defense for policy, who was seeking young women to mentor.
Deal, a specialist in China affairs who worked at the White House as a press aide for First Lady Clinton in the 1990s, wrote back to Clinton saying she would meet Flournoy on May 5, 2009, and stated “thank you very much for making this happen.”
Later that month, Deal thanked Clinton for “all your encouragement and help with DoD, ” shorthand for the Defense Department.
“I met with Michele’s other deputy yesterday, and we had a productive discussion about Iran and developments in maritime Asia,” Deal stated. “We also discussed contract vehicles and mapped out what we need to do so that we can go to work! I am very grateful for everything you have done.”
The emails indicate Deal was seeking to advance her company’s contracts with two powerful policy-making offices, the Defense Department’s main policymaking shop and the State Department policy planning office. Both offices are key players in developing U.S. defense and foreign policy.
The Long Term Strategy Group, set up in 2007 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and now based in Washington, D.C., has been producing reports and holding workshops for the Pentagon’s Office of Net Assessment for years.
A series of Clinton emails beginning on May 21, 2009 reveal that the State Department’s director of policy planning, Anne-Marie Slaughter, turned down a proposal from Deal for a contract with the Long Term Strategy Group to do work for her office. No reason was given.
“Happily, Michele Flournoy’s office is reaching out and has asked me to participate in a wargame next week for the [Quadrennial Defense Review], which I hope will build the foundation for a contract between her office and LTSG,” Deal stated in the email. “I am extremely grateful to you for helping me find opportunities to serve our government,” she added.
Chelsea Clinton also forwarded an email from Deal to Hillary Clinton in December 2011 that included a link to a Huffington Post article by Deal and signed “xoxoxoxoxoxo j”
Deal, in a statement, said that none of the awards LTSG received from the Pentagon “resulted directly or indirectly from the actions or influence of Secretary Clinton.”
She added: “Jacqueline Deal and the Long Term Strategy Group (LTSG) are justifiably proud of their collaboration with the US Department of Defense across multiple administrations over the last two decades, beginning under the administration of President George W. Bush. LTSG’s work has consistently earned the highest respect and confidence of its clientele in government and has won LTSG a reputation for producing research and analysis of exceptional quality.”
Clinton campaign spokesmen did not return emails seeking comment.
Slaughter, through a spokesman, said she had no recollection of contacts with Deal.
Flournoy also said she did not remember discussions with Deal, but stated through a spokesman that in her government career she met with hundreds of young women seeking to advance their careers in the national security field.
“I have and will continue to work with young men and women, including those recommended to me by people whose opinion and judgment I respect, such as Secretary Clinton,” she said.
“Whether any of the people I have met with went on to win contracts with the Office of Net Assessment or other Department of Defense entities was outside my purview as undersecretary of defense for policy,” Flournoy said.
Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook declined to comment on the emails.
The Office of Net Assessment defended contract work done by Deal and the Long Term Strategy Group since 2007, and said the group has not worked for the undersecretary of defense for policy, nor has that office been involved in the contract award process for ONA contracts.
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