Hillary Clinton violated the spirit of Clinton Foundation ethics pledge

Politico has a piece today that argues Hillary Clinton and her top aides violated the spirit, if not the letter, of a pledge she made when she became Secretary of State:

“For the duration of my appointment as Secretary if I am confirmed, I will not participate personally and substantially in any particular matter involving specific parties in which The William J. Clinton Foundation (or the Clinton Global Initiative) is a party or represents a party, unless I am first authorized to participate,” Clinton wrote in a Jan. 5, 2009, letter to State Department Designated Agency Ethics Official James H. Thessin.

Earlier this week, Judicial Watch published 300 new documents from the State Department, including some never-before-seen emails. In one email chain, Clinton’s closest aides, including Human Abedin and Cheryl Mills, are asked to “take care of” an associate of Clinton Foundation insider Doug Band. Parts of the email chain have been redacted but it’s clear from Abedin’s response that the State Department understood the email to be a job request. “Personnel has been sending him options,” Abedin replies to Band.

Ethicists Politico spoke to say these favors violate the spirit of Clinton’s pledge:

Meredith McGehee, policy director for the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center, said that the actual language of the pledge is “not surprisingly, very lawyerly … [and] there is an argument to be made that Clinton herself has not violated what was in the pledge.”

“Whether she or her aides have violated the spirit of the pledge … yeah, of course they have,” McGehee said. “The notion of continuing contact between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department — that was not supposed to happen.”

Craig Holman, a lobbyist with the group Public Citizen, tells Politico, “The Clinton Foundation was taking money from anybody who would give it, and the biggest contributions were from people who had business before the State Department.” He adds that these donors to the family charity, “knew it was essentially throwing money at the feet of not only the secretary of state, but potentially the next president.”

The emails release this week do not represent the first time Clinton’s aides at the State Department have been caught doing a favor for someone connected to the Clinton Foundation. The appointment of Rajiv Fernando, a Clinton Foundation donor, to the International Security Advisory Board raised eyebrows. Fernando, who had no apparent qualification for the position, resigned one day after ABC News began asking questions about him.