State Department officials “failed to disclose” a special employment status granted to Cheryl Mills who was former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s chief of staff, according to Sen. Charles Grassley.
Mills was designated a “Special Government Employee,” and may have “abused her access” for the benefit of former President Clinton and the Clinton family’s foundation, Grassley, the Iowa Republican, charged Tuesday in a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry.
Grassley is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Special government employee status allowed Mills to be paid simultaneously for several months in 2009 as Clinton’s chief of staff at the State Department and as a member of the board of directors for the Clinton Foundation.
The SGE designation also exempted Mills from certain criminal and civil conflict-of-interest ethics laws that usually cover federal employees, as well as from other regulations governing outside income and affiliations while on the government payroll.
As chief of staff, Mills was one of a small circle of State Department officials who reviewed the former chief executive’s proposed speeches and business arrangements to prevent conflicts of interest with Mrs. Clinton’s duties as secretary of state.
Clinton was paid millions of dollars for the speeches by foreign governments, individuals, foundations and corporations.
The Grassley charges widen the group of State Department employees who received the special designation during Clinton’s tenure as the country’s chief diplomat.
Huma Abedin, Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, also worked in the State Department as an SGE while working at a consulting firm owned by a close former aid to the former president and at the Clinton Foundation.
Abedin is now vice chairwoman of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Another SGE under Clinton at the State Department was former Maryland Lt. Governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, who is now chairman of “Correct the Record,” a pro-Hillary Super-PAC.
Former Obama and Clinton White House senior aide John Podesta, who is now chairman of the Clinton 2016 presidential campaign, received the SGE classification during Secretary Clinton’s tenure.
Other prominent Democrats who got the SGE designation during Clinton’s secretaryship included former Ambassador Stuart Eizenstadt, former Sen. Chuck Robb of Virginia, former Clinton White House trade advisor Thomas McLarty and Democratic donor Elizabeth Bagley Frawley.
Grassley charged that the State Department “failed to disclose Ms. Mills’ 2009 SGE status” when it released an official list of SGE employees in February 2014, thereby camouflaging her dual role serving Secretary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation.
Grassley said “her simultaneous relationship with the State Department, the Clinton Foundation, and her actions on behalf of President Clinton’s paid speaking engagements raise important questions.”
Grassley noted as well that “it is unclear if the State Department took any action to make certain that Ms. Mills did not abuse her access to the agency for the benefit of the Clinton Foundation.”
Mills’ relationship with the Clinton’s predated her work at the State Department. She worked on the Clinton-Gore transition team to the White House following the 1992 presidential election and then served as a top legal adviser to President Clinton. She was a prominent member of his defense team during Clinton’s impeachment proceedings before Congress.
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