Thursday, October 1, 2015

Should The Relationship Between Clinton, U.S.State Department and Rockefeller Foundation Be Of Concern? Foundation responds

By Gary Snyder

Hillary Clinton’s top State Department aide, Huma Abedin, asked for help winning a presidential appointment for a supporter of the Clinton Foundation, according to a chain obtained by POLITICO.

The favor was asked for by Teneo--a global firm--that hired Abedin. Abedin signed on with the company while she still held a State Department position, a dual employment that is now being examined by congressional investigators.

Abedin interceded on behalf of Teneo as it sought a new appointment for Judith Rodin, a Teneo client and the president of The Rockefeller Foundation.

Doug Band’s Teneo consulting firm did not get the appointment Teneo was seeking. The Rockefeller Foundation paid Teneo $5.7 million in 2012 to do public relations work but no longer works with the foundation.

Rick Cohen of  Nonprofit Quarterly brings up a little-noticed part of the story, As noted, the Politico story notes that the Rockefeller Foundation paid Teneo $5.7 million in 2012 to do public relations work. That’s an impressive sum of outside PR spending for the foundation. Moreover, it raises the question of whether a foundation-paid PR firm is carrying out a philanthropically minded function when it solicits a presidential appointment for a foundation executive.
Teneo has done quite well by the Rockefeller Foundation, as shown in the foundation’s 990s. According to the Rockefeller Foundation’s Form 990PFs submitted to the Internal Revenue Service, the payments to Teneo as an independent contractor to the foundation dwarf the payments made to the next four highest paid vendors:
Calendar year
Rockefeller Foundation Payment to Teneo
Rockefeller Payments to Next 
4 Top Independent Contractors 
*listed as a grant or contribution to a non-charity as opposed to a payment to an independent contractor or vendor; **payments to top five listed independent contractors, since the payment to Teneo was classified as a grant or contribution
The other top contractors paid by the Rockefeller Foundation were banks or investment firms. No other PR firm working with or for the Rockefeller Foundation comes anywhere close to the Teneo payments. The Politico reports that Teneo no longer works with Rockefeller, though it isn’t clear whether the relationship was terminated in 2014 or in 2015, given that the Rockefeller Foundation’s 2014 990PF is not yet posted on GuideStar.

Much of the time that Doug Band’s Teneo consulting firm consulted for the Rockefeller Foundation, he was also a paid senior employee of the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative, the latter Band’s own brainchild.


Update: Here is the Rockefeller Foundation response to my blog.

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