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Who Are State Dept’s 100 “Special Government Employees”? It Won’t Say

Earlier this year Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin drew scrutiny for working at the State Department and a consulting firm at the same time. The agency is mum on who else had such an arrangement.

Hillary Clinton (right) with her aide Huma Abedin. At least three Clinton staffers were granted "special government employee" status at the State Department.

Earlier this year, Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin drew scrutiny for a special arrangement that allowed her to work part time at the State Department while simultaneously maintaining a side gig working for a corporate consulting firm.

Under the arrangement, first reported by Politico, Abedin was a “special government employee,” a category created decades ago designed to allow experts to serve in government while keeping outside jobs.

So who else is a special government employee at the State Department? The department won’t say -- even as eight other federal agencies readily sent us lists of their own special government employees.

A State Department spokeswoman did confirm that there are “about 100” such employees. But asked for a list, she added that, “As general policy, [the department] does not disclose employee information of this nature.”

Meanwhile, after we filed a Freedom of Information Act request in July for the same information, State responded in September that no such list actually exists: The human resources department “does not compile lists of personnel or positions in the category of ‘special government employee.’”

Creating such a list would require “extensive research” and thus the agency is not required to respond under FOIA, said a letter responding to our request.

In late September, after we told State we were going to publish a story on its refusal to provide the list, the agency said our FOIA request was being reopened. The agency said it would provide the records in a few weeks.

The State Department has since pushed back the delivery date three times and still hasn’t provided any list. It has been four months since we filed the original request.

Several other agencies, including the Energy and Commerce departments, the Federal Communications Commission, and the Federal Trade Commission, promptly responded to similar FOIA requests with lists of their own special government employees. Requests with several other agencies are still pending.

(See the lists of other agencies' special government employees.)

Agencies reported having anywhere from just one special government employee (SEC) to nearly 400 over the past several years (Energy Department). Many are academics, interns, or private industry professionals and they often serve on government advisory boards.

As for the State Department, two other special government employees have been identified recently, and both are former Clinton staffers. As of August ex-chief of staff Cheryl Mills was still working at the agency part time with a focus on Haiti, according to the Washington Post’s Al Kamen. Maggie Williams, who ran Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, worked at the agency’s Office of Global Women’s Issues in 2011 and 2012, according to Politico.

Abedin, for her part, was a special government employee between June 2012 when she resigned her position as deputy chief of staff, to February 2013. She also worked for Teneo, a consulting firm founded by former Bill Clinton aide Doug Band.

In a July letter to Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-IA, Abedin rejected the Senator’s suggestion that she had used her government contacts to provide political intelligence for Teneo’s clients.

“I was not asked, nor did I undertake, any work on Teneo's behalf before the Department,” Abedin wrote. She said her work consisted of providing “strategic advice and consulting services to the firm’s management team.”

(The New Republic recently explored at length the web of connections between Teneo, the Clinton Foundation, and various wealthy individuals and corporations.)

Abedin said in the letter she sought the special arrangement with State because she wanted to spend the bulk of her time at home in New York following the birth of her son in December 2011.

Abedin made $135,000 working for State in 2012, and she and husband ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner made approximately $355,000 in combined additional earnings. We don’t know how much Abedin was paid by Teneo or by the Clinton Foundation, which also employed her during this period.

Following time off during Weiner’s unsuccessful New York City mayoral bid, Abedin is now working directly for Clinton, in a private capacity, as her “Transition Director.”

Reporting contributed by Jonathan Lin.

I thought only NFL head coaches wore gold Rolexes.

Richard Schmidt

Nov. 13, 2013, 2:40 p.m.

I realize that our government has difficulties obtaining advice and counsel from extraordinary folks, who possess special expertise. But this is why the government is allowed to enter into contractual arrangements with such individuals, paying them on a daily consulting rate, rather then bringing them into the Government as “employees”.  If our Government needs an Einstein as an advisor, hire him, either as a consultant, or an employee.  But such folks cannot, must not be both. The conflicts of interest are almost palpable in such arrangements.  All of the 100 “special employees” should be fired and then rehired either as consultants or employees.  Hillary, you should know better.

The interesting thing is that State probably doesn’t have a chance: with crowdsourcing and easy communications—-I bet hashtags are already being developed—-these people are quickly going to be found. It’s like a reality-show contest: Find the Next Special Employee. And the criteria are obvious: simultaneous employment by State and by a private firm.

Bruce J. Fernandes

Nov. 13, 2013, 3:06 p.m.

Who cares about this.. inquiring minds want to know if Huma is going to divorce her husband…. THAT will be the signal that Hillary is definitely running for president.

Hillary will need a woman with the strength to throw her husband off a cliff to offset the fact that she sold her soul for power by staying with her husband.

In fact, it becomes a contest: can they all be found *before* State releases the list? With a subsidiary pool on the date that the list is released…

I am becoming a bigger and bigger fan of ProPublica. This is such important reporting. When it seems like every news organization ends up serving as a mouthpiece for its sources (because it wants to keep the sources happy). This article is going after information that the government doesn’t want to share and it’s making that effort public. To me, the fact that this list has been withheld multiple times, tells me more than any statement from any official. Keep digging ProPublica.

While the non-partisan nature of ProPublica has never been questionable in my mind, it seems to be getting awful close to a partisan question vis-à-vis Hilary Clinton’s possible run for President. I’ve been reading PP on a regular basis for about two years now and have yet to see anything on the ‘cozy relationship’ that the military has with defense contractors, or moreso the practice of double dipping when officers from the military, mainly, were performing in their military position and at the same time being appointed to some executive position at one of the executive agency. Mr. Brezinski, during the Carter Administration comes to mind, (and I remember this stuff,) as well as Mr. Hayden during the second Bush Administration.

“Who cares about this.. inquiring minds want to know if Huma is going to divorce her husband…. THAT will be the signal that Hillary is definitely running for president.

Hillary will need a woman with the strength to throw her husband off a cliff to offset the fact that she sold her soul for power by staying with her husband.”
——
That may be the most inane thing I’ve read all year.

Bruce J Fernandes

Nov. 13, 2013, 7:21 p.m.

Hayd,

You may be right but this is about politics and Huma and Hillary will be ridiculed as women who both stood by pigs I mean their men, respectively.

I admit it is a speculation on my part and yeah it certainly sounds inane BUT if we hear Huma is leaving her husband you would have to admit that might be some sort of signal and that message you thought was inane might not be too far off from political reality.

Doug Pederson AKA SpectateSwamp

Nov. 13, 2013, 10:15 p.m.

Hillary Clinton planted questions at political events. She can’t be trusted. That is cheating.

Unfortunately, this is an established type of abuse at all level of Government. It is payroll fraud with ghost employees. Over the years it has been institutionalized and accepted as part of the system. This a well establish way, for politician or civil servants, in power, to funnel an income and perks to helpers or pay back favors. This type of scheme are also prevalent in election campaigns, as a way to provide an income to spouse, girlfriend, family members, friend, supporter, sycophant. These type of arrangement, with ghost employees or fictional employment, is common to both parties. As Hillary would say what difference does it make?  Are we trying to say, that Hillary was particularly abusive of the system, with over 100 ghosts of her own? She was only doing this for the common good, as she is assembling a team, with tax payers dollar, in preparation for her to win the Presidency, for our good.

Conflicts of interest can and often do affect public policy.
It is important for voters to know that information.

Conflicts of interest can and often do affect public policy.

It is important for voters to know when that may happen.

Ellie Kesselman

Nov. 14, 2013, 4:55 a.m.

Franco Boulle,
I believe that your assessment will be echoed by Slate, The Awl and The Atlantic in their continuing series of editorials, praising Mrs. Clinton,
“She [Hillary] was only doing this for the common good, as she is assembling a team, with taxpayer dollars, in preparation for her to win the Presidency, for our good.”

It is for our good, of course. She cares deeply.

* Another connection: Hillary Clinton introduced Huma Abedin to Anthony Weiner, and Bill Clinton married them. Literally, he presided over the ceremony, after obtaining the necessary legal authority to perform marriages. I read it in The National Review AND The Nation.

Moral and ethical concerns for SGE’s, sure, but what about outsourced military and intelligence operations persons?  What about cyber security? Are there similar work restrictions and conflicts of interest considered for those people?

from 2011
“Former Spy with Agenda, Operates a Private CIA”  (funded by like minded donors even)
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/23/world/23clarridge.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

At the end of this article http://www.nbcnews.com/id/44683587/it says Clarridge is now shopping his human-intelligence networking skills to other foreign intelligence agencies
And then you think of all the dark money flowing through our elections. I wonder how many versions of Clarridge and Furlong there are out there.
http://www.nbcnews.com/id/44683587/

Stan Ianieri

Nov. 15, 2013, 1 a.m.

More government nonsense. I bet if someone dug these “special” people they would it’s all about favortism, rewarding friends for loyalty. This why people dislike government, elitess. They do what they want to do, make deals, and there’s no transparency.

Does the double-dealing, corruption, and two-faced hypocrisy ever stop in Washington? Obviously, no.

John DeFazio: “Does the double-dealing, corruption, and two-faced hypocrisy ever stop in Washington? Obviously, no.”

Isn’t the same thing true of corporate America as well? I fail to see the point of being outraged over one, without equal outrage over the other.

Bruce J Fernandes

Nov. 16, 2013, 9:06 a.m.

Hayd,

There is a difference.  You can take your anger and contempt out on the private sector by boycotting any good or service sold in the private sector.  Government compels you to pay up by force of law.

I happen to believe JPMorgan is the most corrupt bank in the US bordering on a level of corruption that should be subject to RICO IMO.

I will never associate with anything JPMorgan.

I deny JPMorgan the revenue from anything they offer for sale to the public.  I cannot do the same with government.

That check and balance alone is enough for the private sector to realize it cannot behave in the same brazen manner as government without consequences.  Government has no such equivalent and no elections merely deal with representation; not the core of government.

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