Bill Clinton may have leveraged his family's foundation to secure a lucrative partnership with a Dubai-based company, further blurring the lines between the Clintons' personal finances and their philanthropic empire.
The detail emerged in a memo written by longtime Clinton confidante Doug Band in 2011 that was released Wednesday by WikiLeaks. In it, Band described the work of his newly founded consulting firm, Teneo Strategies, as convincing clients to donate to the Clinton Foundation.
Band acknowledged the "unorthodox nature" of his and fellow foundation staffer Justin Cooper's relationships to Clinton over the years, as both aides had served overlapping roles at the foundation and in pursuit of personal profit for the Clinton family.
"Independent of our fundraising and decision-making activities on behalf of the Foundation, we have dedicated ourselves to helping the President secure and engage in for-profit activities – including speeches, books, and advisory service engagements," Band wrote.
He dubbed those for-profit pursuits "Bill Clinton, Inc." The resulting deals often involved a mix of foundation donations, paid speeches and consulting contracts for Bill Clinton, lumping charitable and personal financial work together in ways that may have crossed ethical boundaries.
Bill and Hillary Clinton have both defended the work of the Clinton Foundation as completely independent of their family's finances or political ambitions. Critics have frequently accused the Clintons of using their foundation to enrich themselves and grow their political clout in anticipation of Hillary Clinton's presidential bid.
However, the Band memo makes clear the inextricable ties between Bill Clinton's personal profits and his eponymous charity. What's more, it reveals the fact that Teneo's operation, at least in the early months of its existence, was heavily dependent on the Clinton name and foundation to build relationships with its clients.
One example found in the memo involves GEMS Education, a for-profit education corporation that has been linked to the teaching of Sharia Law. The group paid Bill Clinton nearly $6.2 million between 2011-15, when the former president ended his contract with the firm ahead of Hillary Clinton's campaign launch.
The same year Bill Clinton pocketed his first $500,000 from GEMS, he also earned a $100,000 fee from Teneo, Band's firm, according to the Clintons' financial disclosures.
In the 2011 memo, Band described the way he and Cooper pushed GEMS to donate to the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative, and laid out how Bill Clinton used the foundation to secure his paid partnership with the United Arab Emirates corporation.
"Gems approached President Clinton in 2009 to seek his personal services as an advisor to the company. Justin and I convinced them to initiate a relationship to Foundation, which they did; that relationship has grown into a business relationship for President Clinton and a donor relationship for CGI," Band wrote.
According to figures Band placed in the memo, GEMS donated just $5,000 to the foundation in 2008, the year before it approached Bill Clinton. However, in 2010, the year after Band said he and Cooper began lobbying the company, GEMS gave $500,000 to the charity.
GEMS became a Teneo client the following year.
Bill Clinton also pocketed millions from a separate contract with Laureate Education, another for-profit education conglomerate. Band boasted in his memo that the former president's contract with the company "evolved" from its ties to the foundation.
"Laureate is a Foundation relationship that evolved into a personal advisory services business relationship for President Clinton," Band wrote. "I have managed this relations [sic] and, since 2011, Teneo partners have helped manage this relationship, which is very time-consuming. Laureate pays President Clinton $3.5 million annually to provide advice and serve as their Honorary Chairman."
The memo indicated Laureate had donated $1,401,332 to the Clinton Foundation between 2009-11. It became a Teneo client in 2011.
Band described himself and Cooper as "agents, lawyers, managers and implementers" who, along with other Teneo partners, sought "to secure speaking, business and advisory service deals."
As an example, Band described the paid speaking deals his partner, Declan Kelly, had arranged for Bill Clinton. One such deal was with UBS, a major Swiss financial services company, and included a stipulation that the bank donate to the Clinton Foundation before being permitted to book Bill Clinton for speeches.
"Mr. Kelly asked UBS to offer President Clinton paid speeches based upon a concept he developed with Bob Mccann for the firm's clients," Band wrote, referring to UBS' then-chairman.
"In addition to the $540,000 UBS contributed to the Foundation, Teneo partners have secured a commitment from UBS for President Clinton to deliver three additional paid speeches for them in 2012, should he choose to do so."
According to Hillary Clinton's financial disclosures from 2012, Bill Clinton delivered at least two of those speeches to UBS, netting $175,000 for each. Kelly, who co-founded Teneo in June 2011, was fresh off a special envoy post at the State Department. Hillary Clinton named Kelly her special economic envoy to Northern Ireland in September 2009.
The Band memo emerged during a period of tensions between Chelsea Clinton and Teneo's partners after the former first daughter seized on rumors that Teneo had invoked her father's name without his knowledge or consent in order to woo British clients.
Around that time, the Clinton Foundation was also undergoing a corporate review designed to eliminate some of the bureacratic waste and conflicts of interest that had begun to plague the charity.
Privately, Chelsea Clinton and Band had both expressed concerns that the Clinton Foundation risked losing its nonprofit status.