Surprise: Hillary's chief of staff at State had a second job -- which required her to negotiate with a foreign government

I know what you’re thinking — conflict of interest! — but c’mon. If the government of Abu Dhabi wanted to buy influence with Hillary Clinton, they’d just cut a check to the Clinton Foundation like everyone else. There are so many conflicts of interest to choose from with the Clintons and their lackeys, like Huma Abedin, that it’s silly to focus on just one.

But here’s the latest one for the pile, via WaPo. Turns out that Hillary’s right-hand woman, Cheryl Mills, was working for NYU back in 2009 when Hillary asked her to come aboard as her new chief of staff at the State Department. Mills claimed that she never intended to stay as COS full-time, just temporarily while she and Hillary found someone suitable for the job, which is why she didn’t quit her NYU job immediately. That’s transparent nonsense, of course: Mills and Abedin are Hillary’s two most loyal longtime aides and were destined to end up as high-level operatives at State once Clinton herself was sworn in as secretary. Who else could Hillary have trusted for tasks as sensitive as suggesting “changes” to the Accountability Review Board’s report on Benghazi and forwarding classified information on a private e-mail server to the Clinton Foundation? Even so, that’s Mills’s explanation for why she thought she could juggle both jobs for a few months early in Hillary’s term — she didn’t think she’d be staying.

What wasn’t known until recently was that Mills’s work at NYU involved negotiating for an overseas campus for the university in Abu Dhabi with the government of that emirate. And naturally it wouldn’t be lost on that government that they shouldn’t alienate a close confidante of America’s new chief diplomat, who’d just agreed to join her at the State Department “temporarily.” So Mills worked both jobs, an arrangement which WaPo says probably didn’t technically violate federal ethics rules but which several experts said they find highly, highly irregular. Go figure.

“This is exceedingly unusual, perhaps exceptional in the history of modern federal bureaucratic leadership. I’ve never seen it before,” said Paul C. Light, an NYU professor who has studied government employment in depth for decades and is a former head of the Center for Public Service at the Brookings Institution…

Richard W. Painter, who served as a White House ethics lawyer under President George W. Bush, said Mills’s work probably complied with the law provided she did no work at State that would financially affect NYU and its overseas campus.

Still, he called the appearance of the arrangement “problematic” and said he thinks it would have been best handled if State Department lawyers were “closely monitoring” both Mills’s responsibilities for NYU and the university’s interests around the world.

“At this level, that you would make someone a GS-15 and yet have them continue to be a lawyer for a large academic institution or a large law firm — that I’ve never seen,” said Painter, who is a professor at the University of Minnesota Law School.

Funny thing about that GS-15 rank assigned to Mills: Normally, per WaPo, a chief of staff would be listed as part of the “senior executive service,” which would limit the amount of outside income she could receive to roughly $26,000. Instead, by listing her as GS-15 for a few months, Mills avoided a cap on her NYU compensation, which ended up being $198,000 in salary in 2009 and another $330,000 in severance when she quit to work for Hillary full time. Being a de facto Clinton, with access to the extensive “It’s not technically illegal, but…” Clinton playbook, has its advantages.

Mills insists she did nothing wrong and can’t recall any issues at State that would have demanded her recusal. Assuming Hillary wins next November, she’s quite likely to be the next White House chief of staff.