More ethics issues for Huma Abedin?

While working as a high-level aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Huma Abedin received a curious waiver to work in the private sector simultaneously — and went to work for a firm politically connected to the Clintons and their foundation, Teneo. The waiver itself is under investigation by the Senate Judiciary Committee, a probe that may take on more importance as the FBI succeeds in uncovering more e-mail from Hillary’s server. Politico’s Rachel Bade may have found a quo if not a quid in Abedin’s communications:

A spring 2012 email to 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 messages illustrate the relationship between Clinton’s most trusted confidant and the private consulting company that asked for the favor, Teneo Inc. — a global firm that later 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’s legal team maintains that the part-time jobs were appropriate and approved by Abedin’s supervisors at State and that she did nothing wrong. Indeed, in the email request obtained by POLITICO, there is no evidence that Abedin interceded on behalf of Teneo as it sought a new appointment for Judith Rodin, a Teneo client and president of the Rockefeller Foundation.

Rodin, a former White House appointee to the White House Council for Community Solutions, did not get the appointment Teneo was seeking. The Foundation paid Teneo $5.7 million in 2012 to do public relations work, but no longer works with the firm.

The Hillary Clinton campaign objected to the leak of the e-mail, which it said was produced with the understanding that it would not be made public. That’s certainly a curious position to take, since by law federal records such as official State Department communications are public records. If it didn’t come from Judiciary, it might well have popped out from any number of FOIA demands — which, as we have seen, the use of a secret server thwarted for years.

This exchange took place before Teneo hired Abedin in the waiver arrangement, which raises questions of its own. Teneo had worked to get appointments through Abedin without success; did they figure that paying her would make her a more effective lobbyist? She may not have “interceded” in a precise legal sense, but asking for allies to push the White House to give a Teneo exec a plum position is lobbying in a practical sense.

While Team Clinton and Abedin’s lawyers are throwing up all sorts of rebuttals on precise statutory grounds, let’s not lose sight of the big picture here. Abedin, a longtime key aide and official staff for a Secretary of State, got a sweet deal in which she could collect two paychecks — one from American taxpayers, and the other from a politically-connected firm that wanted to get White House appointments. It’s absurd to believe that Abedin had value to Teneo as anything other than a conduit to Hillary Clinton and an entrée to the Obama administration. Even if no laws got broken, and that’s still far from clear, the arrangement stinks to high heaven.