If this story doesn’t end up impacting the 2016 presidential election, then I am going to call shenanigans on the political process. And you should too:
The State Department, under Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton, created an arrangement for her longtime aide and confidante Huma Abedin to work for private clients as a consultant while serving as a top adviser in the department.
Ms. Abedin did not disclose the arrangement — or how much income she earned — on her financial report. It requires officials to make public any significant sources of income. An adviser to Mrs. Clinton, Philippe Reines, said that Ms. Abedin was not obligated to do so.
The disclosure of the agreement that Ms. Abedin made with the State Department comes as her husband, former Representative Anthony D. Weiner, a Democrat, prepares for a mayoral run in New York City. Politico reported the arrangement on Thursday afternoon.
Ms. Abedin declined a request for an interview, but the picture that emerges from interviews and records suggests a situation where the lines were blurred between Ms. Abedin’s work in the high echelons of one of the government’s most sensitive executive departments and her role as a Clinton family insider.
While continuing her work at the State Department, in the latter half of 2012, she also worked for Teneo, a strategic consulting firm, which was founded by Doug Band, a former adviser to President Bill Clinton. Teneo has advised corporate clients like Coca-Cola and MF Global, the collapsed brokerage firm run by Jon S. Corzine, a former governor of New Jersey.
At the same time, Ms. Abedin served as a consultant to the William Jefferson Clinton Foundation and worked in a personal capacity for Mrs. Clinton as she prepared to transition out of her job as secretary of state.
It is not clear what role Mrs. Clinton played in approving the arrangement. Some good-government groups have been critical of such situations, saying public employees’ loyalty should be solely to the public and their government work, rather than private firms and figures.
I’ve gotten used to the notion of a revolving door between the public and the private sectors. I don’t much have a problem with the presence of that revolving door; after years in government, it makes sense that people who serve the country may eventually have to go into the private sector to make the money they weren’t making as public servants. Many of those people have families to take care of and kids’ college tuitions to worry about, after all. But I never thought that we would do away with even the pretense of a revolving door by allowing public servants to make money on the side from the private sector while they are ostensibly supposed to be devoting their waking hours to serving the American people.
Hillary Clinton appears to be up to her neck on this issue, as does the Clinton Foundation. Both she and the people who run the foundation ought to answer questions regarding Huma Abedin’s special arrangement. And if Hillary Clinton cannot answer those questions, then in the event that she runs for president, we ought to wonder whether she has the judgment and the ethics to serve honorably in the White House. Oh, and if Anthony Weiner really does end up running for mayor of New York, he might well have more than just some errant tweets to haunt his campaign.