Bill Clinton is defending Doug Band, his former low-level aide who became the gatekeeper to the former president and used that position to create a very lucrative consulting business. In an interview with CBS This Morning on Tuesday, Clinton pushed back against an exposé in The New Republic, saying, "There's nothing wrong with him starting a business with people he met working for me… That's the only way he could have ever met people he could do business with. He went to work for me when he was in his early 20s and still a law student."
Band started out in the lowly position of bodyman — sometimes called "butt boy" by aides — that involves carrying bags, maintaining Clinton's schedule, always having a pen handy, etc. Band stayed by Clinton's side throughout most of his post-presidency, and came up with the idea for the wildly successful Clinton Global Initiative — Clinton told CBS that Band was responsible for "virtually 100 percent" of his fundraising after leaving office. But as TNR's Alec MacGillis explains, in 2011, Band and Irish businessman Declan Kelly created Teneo, a consulting business that charges as much as $250,000 a month for public relations. Teneo can charge high fees because of Band's connection to Clinton. "The longtime Clinton associate says that Band’s pitch to clients was that he was 'able to fly around [with Clinton] and decide who flies around with him. ... The whole thing is resting on his access,'" MacGillis reports.
Clinton was once a paid to sit on on Teneo's "advisory board," but Clinton quit taking money from Teneo in early 2012, and the "advisory board" page on Teneo's website is now gone. As The New York Times reported in August, many at the Clinton Foundation became concerned about a conflict of interest between Band's consulting business and his job running the Clinton Global Initiative. Teneo clients who were also CGI donors include Coca-Cola, Dow Chemical, UBS Americas, and Standard Chartered. Hillary Clinton's aide Huma Abedin had a part-time consulting job at Teneo last year. According to the Times, it was Chelsea Clinton who helped oust Band.
Clinton explained Band's departure to CBS as a perfectly natural transition. "I think it was necessary and I believe he came to see it was necessary to make a clean break, because his business grew more quickly than I think even he thought it would," Clinton said. "I think the way it worked out is fine, including my not being involved in the business...it's easier for me to recommend them if everybody knows I don't get any money. And I don't take that, but there's nothing wrong with starting a business and trying to make something happen."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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