Report: Clinton Foundation Paid Sidney Blumenthal $10,000 a Month
The State Department on Thursday dismissed questions about a report that Sidney Blumenthal, a longtime Clinton family associate, made $10,000 a month as an employee of the Clinton Foundation while he advised then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Asked if Blumenthal's salary from the Clinton Foundation was a concern for the State Department, spokesman Jeff Rathke referred reporters to the foundation.
"I would refer you back to the foundation and to her for the particular arrangements,'' Rathke told reporters, referring to Clinton.
According to the Politico report, which cited "multiple sources familiar with the arrangement," Blumenthal was employed by the foundation full-time from 2009 to 2013 when he became a consultant for the organization, which was founded by former President Bill Clinton. It was during this same time that Blumenthal sent Hillary Clinton, now the front runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, what she described as "unsolicited" memos about Libya, where he was trying to arrange business deal.Those briefings included early suggestions that terrorists were responsible for the 2012 Benghazi attacks in which U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens was killed. In comments to reporters about the memos last week while on the campaign trail, Clinton described the exchanges as "part of a give and take" with Blumenthal. "He's been a friend of mine for a long time," Clinton said.
But based on the Politico report, it now appears he was being handsomely compensated by the foundation that bears Clinton's name, along with that of her husband and daughter, Chelsea.
"I don't think it changes our fundamental view of the situation,'' Rathke said. "Mr. Blumenthal was not a U.S. government employee. It's not unusual for officials to hear from a variety of outside voices. As you can see from the exchanges in those e-mails, in some cases the Secretary forwarded them to other officials, in some cases not.'"
Asked whether the issue should be looked into, Rathke said: "it's an issue to raise with the foundation.''
Neither the Clinton Foundation nor Blumenthal's lawyer, former Deputy Attorney General James Cole would comment to Politico about Blumenthal's arrangement with the Clinton Foundation, though Cole did say that Blumenthal has no financial interest in efforts of several companies to obtain contracts in Libya -- companies to which Blumenthal has been linked as an adviser.
Neither the Clinton Foundation nor Cole have provided Bloomberg with a comment, nor, so far, has Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.
The Politico report suggested that Blumenthal was a controversial figures even within Clinton circles.
"While Blumenthal’s foundation job focused on highlighting the legacy of Clinton’s presidency, some officials at the charity questioned his value and grumbled that his hiring was a favor from the Clintons," Politico said. Blumenthal became a contract employee with similar salary but no benefits in 2013, then left the foundation in March, according to the report.
Blumenthal's appearance before the House committee investigating the Benghazi attacks, originally expected next week, has been postponed, according to the panel. No new date for the interview has yet been set.
(Nicole Gaouette and Billy House contributed reporting)