AP: Clinton's State Department calendar omits meetings with donors, corporate leaders

The Associated Press undertook the thankless task of comparing Hillary Clinton’s calendar, an official record of her time as Secretary of State, with her planning schedules. It took the AP more than two years to get the State Department to turn over all the materials in question. They first requested them back in August 2013. Last March, the AP sued and the department finally agreed to turn over the documents.

What the AP found was “scores” of instances where Clinton’s meetings with political cronies and former campaign bundlers were left out of her calendar:

The AP review of Clinton’s calendar – her after-the-fact, official chronology of the events of her four-year term – identified at least 75 meetings with longtime political donors and loyalists, Clinton Foundation contributors and corporate and other outside interests that were either not recorded or listed with identifying details scrubbed…

The missing or heavily edited entries in her calendar included private dinners with political donors, policy sessions with groups of corporate leaders and “drop-bys” with old Clinton campaign hands. Among those whose names were omitted from her calendar were longtime adviser Sidney Blumenthal, consultant and former Clinton White House chief of staff Thomas “Mack” McLarty, former energy lobbyist Joseph Wilson and entertainment magnate and Clinton campaign bundler Haim Saban.

[…]

Clinton’s calendar listed meetings with 124 business leaders and political donors and loyalists, but not with 114 others who were identified by the AP’s review. In some cases, repeat Clinton visitors were listed for some meetings, but not for others.

The AP states that none of this amounts to a violations of any laws, rather it suggests the Clinton was, once again, trying to keep some of her close interactions with campaign donors away from prying eyes. But the pattern here is reminiscent of what we’ve seen with other stories, i.e. Clinton’s donors get special access even as they have business before the government which makes having that access valuable.

Details about Clinton’s private conversation with her corporate guests were not included in her records. Four of the attendees – Schwarzman, Nooyi, Cote and Kullman – headed companies that later donated to Clinton’s pet diplomatic project of that period, the U.S. pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai Expo. All the firms represented except Coach lobbied the government in 2009; Blackstone, Honeywell, Omnicom and DuPont lobbied the State Department that year. Schwarzman and Frankfort have personally donated to the Clinton Foundation, and the other firms – except for American Tower and New York Bank of Mellon – also contributed to the Clinton charity.

The closest any of this has come to a clear quid pro quo is probably this story about the appointment of a former campaign bundler (and Clinton Foundation donor) to an international security board for which he had zero qualifications. That story has received surprisingly little traction so far.

The painstaking AP analysis of Clinton’s schedule shows there was a lot of money flowing to Clinton’s pet projects and her family foundation from people she took meetings with, people who also had business interests before the government. And it shows she and her aides took pains to insure the details of those interactions did not become part of the record.