Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Firm linked to Clintons may buy agency that defended drugmaker after arthritis drug killed thousands

APCO Worldwide "has long provided public relations services for the Clinton Foundation, free of charge."

1/4/16 UPDATE: US journalists covering the 2016 presidential race are still neglecting to regularly report on the controversial consulting firm Teneo, even though it has deep connections to top Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton (and ties to the Bushes, as I will expand upon in future articles), while it continues to pursue its "worldwide" ambitions. Many US and UK reporters who cover politics and business routinely thank me for providing continual coverage of Teneo, but this story - and its sources - haven't gotten a single link, or even a retweet on Twitter from one US media outlet.

On January 1st, Mark Paul noted at the Irish Times - as I reported on the day it was published - that the UK-based PR Week claimed Teneo was "leading the race" to buy another large public relations firm called Apco, which employs many former US government officials. "It was speculated that the options open to suitors such as Teneo or [China's] BlueFocus include buying the minority stake owned by US bank, WindRiver, or launching a wider bid for majority control by targeting the stakes held by senior staff," Paul observed.

In an analysis called "What Apco Wants", The Holmes Report published an interview on January 3rd with the firm's founder, Margery Kraus, who - as I reported last week - donated to Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign. "We’re not looking to sell a majority now", Kraus told Arun Sudhaman. "We are simply looking to replace our current outside investors, who are minority investors. If we would ever consider selling a majority in the company, it would have to be an extraordinary opportunity—both in terms of value created and in terms of strategic opportunity for our team."

However, as Sudhaman noted, "[t]he presence of Teneo among APCO’s suitors suggests that a majority sale of the firm cannot be ruled out", and "Teneo itself did not respond to request for comment, but agency sources within the group told the Holmes Report that talks with APCO are ongoing." He added, "Accordingly, Kraus wants a partner that can complement APCO in specific areas, including big data (the firm launched its own offering in 2014), global geopolitical solutions (where APCO’s international advisory council remains a unique, if premium, practice) and digital."

Teneo - a consulting firm that was co-founded by former President Bill Clinton's "body man" and two Hillary Clinton fundraisers, one of whom she appointed as US Economic Adviser to No. Ireland - still has worldwide ambitions, even if the US press continues to ignore them, as the former Secretary of State leads Democratic presidential polls in the 2016 race.

"Global public affairs consultancy APCO is in discussions with potential investors, with a sale or partial sale to Teneo understood to be among the favoured options, PRWeek has learned," John Harrington reported earlier today.
"PRWeek understands that talks have taken place with Teneo, the acquisitive American consultancy, about a potential investment in the business. APCO declined to comment on these talks.

PRWeek also understands BlueFocus - the Chinese agency that has global expansion ambitions of its own, having bought a minority stake in Huntsworth - has also been in discussions with APCO. However, Teneo is thought to be leading the race for the consultancy.
"
Harrington notes that "APCO, which is headquartered in Washington DC and has more than 30 offices worldwide, generated revenue of $118.1m (£79.3m) in 2014, according to PRWeek’s Global Agency Business Report, making it the world’s 18th largest PR network" and "[a] swoop for APCO would be the biggest acquisition yet for Teneo, more than doubling its global headcount to over 1,100 with the addition of more than 600 APCO employees." He adds that "Teneo declined to comment", which is par for the course, since the firm keeps its client list kind of secretive and prefers giving scoops to journalists who leave them out of stories, as I've been reporting.

As her biography states, "Margery Kraus, executive chairman of APCO Worldwide, a global consulting firm headquartered in Washington, D.C., specializes in public affairs, communication and business consulting for major multinationals. Ms. Kraus founded APCO in 1984 and transformed it from a company with one small Washington office to a multinational consulting firm in major cities throughout the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. In September 2004, Ms. Kraus led a management buy-out of her firm, making APCO one of the largest privately owned communication and public affairs firms in the world."

"Prior to starting APCO, Ms. Kraus assisted in the creation and development of the Close Up Foundation, a multi-million-dollar educational foundation sponsored in part by the United States Congress. Ms. Kraus continues to be involved with the foundation by serving on its board of directors," the APCO bio adds.

Kraus donated $2,300 to the "Hillary Clinton for President" campaign in 2007, but hasn't openly contributed to her in the 2016 race.

A few former Clintonites work at APCO Worldwide, who the consulting firm rely on to maintain "a diplomatic corps for global client needs."

In 2011, as BulldogReporter.com noted, "Mark Medish, former senior staff member of the National Security Council (NSC) during the Clinton administration and Washington veteran, will join APCO Worldwide (www.apcoworldwide.com) to run its executive advisory service Global Political Strategies (GPS). Medish will lead the GPS team of senior former government and corporate officials from around the world who have formed a diplomatic corps for global client needs, particularly as they do business in challenging markets."

"Prior to joining APCO, Medish had a distinguished public service career in national security, financial policy and international development," the 2011 article added. "He served at the White House as special assistant to President Bill Clinton and NSC senior director for Russian, Ukrainian and Eurasian Affairs."

In March of 2013, another APCO press release noted, "Kraus and APCO also are involved in other civic efforts including work for the Clinton Global Initiative and Yunus Social Business, a new initiative of Professor Muhammad Yunus the recipient of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize, 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom and 2010 Congressional Gold Medal.

A few months ago, on September 25, a Clinton Global Initiative press release announced, "Global communications consultancy APCO Worldwide is partnering with CGI to support communications at the CGI 2015 Annual Meeting. APCO staff members will be located in the Press Working Room and will be able to help with inquiries and with contacting CGI members." Apco has partnered with CGI many times over the last eight years. ABC NEWS reported in May that it , "has long provided public relations services for the Clinton Foundation, free of charge."
"The 2015 Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting will convene more than 1,000 global leaders in philanthropy, business, government, and civil society on September 26-29 in New York City to define the next decade of commitment-making through “The Future of Impact” theme.

.... Announced participants and attendees include: His Majesty King Abdullah II ibn Al Hussein of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan; Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President, Republic of Liberia; Petro Poroshenko, President of Ukraine; Matteo Renzi, Prime Minister of the Italian Republic; Sir Richard Branson, Founder, Virgin Group and Virgin Unite; Ursula Burns, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Xerox Corporation; John Chambers, Executive Chairman of the Board, Cisco; Bill Gates, Co-chair and Trustee, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Anita Goel, Chairman and CEO, Nanobiosym Diagnostics; Elizabeth Holmes, Founder and CEO, Theranos; Michel Li├Ęs, Group CEO, Swiss Reinsurance Company; Jack Ma, Executive Chairman, Alibaba Group; John McFarlane, Chairman, Barclays; Carolyn Miles, President and CEO, Save the Children; Jacqueline Novogratz, Founder and CEO, Acumen; Art Peck, Chief Executive Officer, Gap Inc.; Paul Polman, Chief Executive Officer, Unilever; Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid Al Qasimi, Minister of Foreign Trade, United Arab Emirates; Megan Smith, Chief Technology Officer of the United States; George Soros, Founder and Chairman, Soros Fund Management and Open Society Foundations; and Jim Yong Kim, President, World Bank Group.

Erin Burnett, anchor, “Erin Burnett OutFront”; Fareed Zakaria, host of CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS” and Washington Post columnist; Becky Quick, co-anchor of CNBC’s “Squawk Box”; Shane Smith, CEO and co-founder of Vice Media; Abderrahim Foukara, Washington, DC Bureau Chief of Al Jazeera; and Gideon Rose, Editor, Foreign Affairs, will moderate special sessions for broadcast or webcast, as well as additional members of the media who will participate in sessions including Tina Brown, Founder and CEO, Tina Brown Live Media; Adam Davidson, Economics Writer, The New York Times; Rana Foroohar, Assistant Managing Editor and Economics Columnist, Global Economic Analyst, TIME, CNN; Yang Lan, Chairman, Sun Media Group and Sun Culture Foundation; Betsy McKay, Atlanta Bureau Chief, The Wall Street Journal; and Max Schorr, Co-Founder and Board Member, GOOD magazine.
"
In July, the firm announced that "Lisa Osborne Ross, a former senior Clinton administration official and 20-year public relations agency veteran, is joining APCO Worldwide as the managing director of its Washington office, effective August 10."

"Ross served in the first and second terms of the Clinton administration, specializing in policy development and issues management," the APCO announcement added. "During this time, she was communications director for the U.S. Department of Labor’s effort to create and promote high-performance workplaces, deputy director of the bipartisan Federal Glass Ceiling Commission and chief of staff for the White House’s Office for Women’s Initiatives and Outreach. Ross also created and directed the Office of Public Liaison at the U.S. Department of Labor under Secretary Alexis Herman."

It also noted other former "senior leaders" who used to work for the US government: "She joins other senior leaders at APCO in Washington, including: Gadi Dechter, head of public affairs and former senior advisor at the White House National Economic Council and National Security Council; Alicia Peterson Clark, deputy managing director for Washington, D.C., and former special assistant to the president under President George W. Bush; Tim Roemer, senior director and former U.S. ambassador to India and member of Congress; Cliff Stearns, executive director and former member of Congress; Melissa Musiker, global chair of APCO’s Food, Consumer Products and Retail practice and former USDA economist; and Marilyn Fancher, chief creative officer at APCO."

According to his APCO Worldwide bio, "During his tenure, Ambassador Roemer was charged with leading one of America’s largest diplomatic missions. Under the leadership of President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, he was responsible for broadening and deepening the US-India partnership. He oversaw the implementation of several key policies and initiatives, including increasing cooperation, technology transfer and commercial sales in the defense and space industries; signing the Counterterrorism Cooperation Initiative to further expand cooperation in areas such as intelligence and homeland security, border security, money laundering and terrorist financing; and working with the United States to assist India on its Global Center for Nuclear Energy Partnership. He also emphasized commerce and exports, helping move India from America’s 25th-largest trading partner to 12th.

On April 28, Jonathan Allen noted at Vox that APCO has contributed between $25,000 and $50,000 to the Clinton Foundation.

In 2007, the Holmes Report noted, "Linda Distlerath, a leading health policy expert and former vice president of global health policy, at Merck & Co., has joined APCO Worldwide as a senior vice president."

In an April 11, 2010 Bloomberg News article, Sarah Rabil reported, "APCO Worldwide, the public relations firm that advised Hewlett-Packard Co.’s board after accusations of harassment against its chief executive officer, has handled crises from Merck & Co.’s Vioxx scandal to WorldCom Inc.’s fraud and now is helping Wall Street earn back America’s trust.

"Kent Jarrell, a senior vice president at APCO and director of the litigation communication practice, worked on public relations during Merck’s Vioxx painkiller lawsuits after a study found the drug doubled the risk of heart attacks and strokes," Rabil's story continued. "He also worked with Ford Motor Co. when Explorers with Firestone tires were blamed for fatal crashes, and Alaska Air Group Inc.’s Alaska Airlines after a flight crashed in January 2000."

DrugWatch.com notes, "Initially hailed as a superior non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), Vioxx spent only a few years on the market before it was the focus of thousands of consumer lawsuits. Within five years of being approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of arthritis and menstrual pain, the painkiller was linked to thousands of heart attacks, strokes and deaths. At the same time, the drug’s manufacturer, Merck, vehemently denied any problems."

"Within weeks of the Vioxx recall, injured patients across the nation were seeking justice in court. Up to 38,000 people died from heart attacks or strokes after taking Vioxx, with a total of about 160,000 patients injured," the DrugWatch dispatch - which was last modified in May of 2014 - added. "While some of the victims had had ongoing heart problems, many more did not."
"At the same time, Merck was continually trying to deflect major criminal charges related to its shady marketing and sales tactics and allegations of mismanagement. A U.S. Senate Finance Committee hearing investigated the drug company’s cozy ties with the FDA, questioned the company’s $195 million direct-to-consumer marketing plan and looked into possible Medicaid and Medicare fraud. Today, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, continues to question Merck’s relationship with the FDA, charging the FDA and Merck collaborated to hide the Vioxx side effects.

Although Merck agreed to pay $950 million and plead guilty to a federal misdemeanor related to its marketing practices, many were outraged by the settlement because the company still gleaned billions of dollars in Vioxx profits and was hardly reprimanded for the related deaths. The company did pay a $321 million criminal fine, $426 million to the federal government and $202 million to 48 states and the District of Columbia to settle civil claims that Merck’s illegal marketing influenced doctors to prescribe a drug they would not have otherwise prescribed.
"
In May of 2009, The Guardian reported, "Private lobbying by an American pharmaceutical company saw government ministers back down from supporting British people who claim one of its failed drugs caused them heart attacks and strokes."
"A minister promised in parliament that the government would back their campaign against Merck, one of the world's largest drugs firms. But Whitehall documents obtained by the Guardian reveal Merck immediately put pressure on the minister and helped persuade the government to withdraw its support.

Merck is refusing to compensate hundreds of Britons who say their health was damaged even though the multinational has paid out more than £2bn to 44,000 people in America.
"
The Guardian claimed, "Merck launched a campaign to head off government support for the alleged victims, with the help of a lobbying firm, APCO, according to official briefing notes."

"Kent Jarrell, executive director, leads APCO’s Washington, D.C.-based crisis management and litigation communications practice,"according to his APCP bio. "He advises CEOs, general counsels and boards of directors on the preparation for unfolding material events."

The APCO bio adds, "He continues to serve as an outside global manager for Merck’s communication efforts on the Vioxx litigation."

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Former State Secretary Hillary Clinton touted consultant as 'good friend' during Hong Kong speech

12/19 UPDATE: 3 years after Hillary Clinton shout-out, Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC) held luncheon for Teneo Strategy Managing Director Nancy Bowen

On July 25, 2011, while serving as Secretary of State, top 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton gave a shout-out to her "good friend" during a speech in Hong Kong about how the United States could "intensify" its "economic partnership" with the Asia-Pacific region. That "good friend" worked for former President Bill Clinton in the White House, then for the Clinton Global Initiative, owned a Hong Kong based consulting firm, was later hired by Teneo - a firm co-founded by two of her fundraisers and her husband's former "body man" - and donated $6,900 to her unsuccessful 2008 presidential campaign.

The Free Beacon recently reported that during the former NY Democratic Senator's tenure at the State Department, Hillary Clinton sometimes asked "underlings and staffers" to "pls print" up "lists of expensive China patterns, restaurants, and shopping destinations overseas".
"'Sorry for the delay in getting a shopping list together. It has been a busy week. Do you have an advance person here? Do you need me to make any arrangements for you? I know many of the shop owners/designers I am recommending (but not all of them.),' Nancy Hernreich Bowen said in an email to top Clinton aide Huma Abedin, the beleaguered wife of Anthony Weiner, in an email subject-lined, 'Hong Kong shopping.'

Bowen works for Teneo Holdings, a company tied to the Clintons and former White House counsel Doug Band. Abedin drew a $355,000 salary from Teneo while she was working at the State Department. A department inspector general report found that she had been overpaid by thousands of taxpayer dollars, findings that are now being reviewed.
"
However, aside from the fact that Free Beacon is one of many numerous media outlets that continue to misreport how much Abedin was paid by Teneo (which I'll address in a future story), Bowen wasn't hired by Teneo until February of 2012, nine months after Huma Abedin forwarded Clinton the email.

On May 15, 2012, Teneo announced in a press release, "Teneo today expanded its presence in Asia with the opening of a new office in Hong Kong. To lead Teneo’s Hong Kong office, Nancy Hernreich Bowen joined Teneo Strategy as a Managing Director."

"Ms. Bowen has lived and worked in Asia for over eleven years," the press release state. "Most recently, she served as a senior advisor for McLarty Associates and managing director of NHB International, a Hong Kong based consulting firm which she founded in 2001. In this role, she utilized her experience, knowledge of Asia and senior level U.S. and Asian business and government relationships to assist Asian and American businesses with their cross border business interests. She has assisted clients with Asia and U.S. trade strategy, relationship-building, issues and crisis management and public relations."

The press release added, "As managing director of the Clinton Global Initiative Asia from September 2007 to December 2008, Ms. Bowen was responsible for the planning and execution of the event, which included more than 400 of the most influential Asian business, government and civil society leaders held in December 2008. Prior to that, she was assistant to the president and director of Oval Office operations from 1993 to 2001. Her responsibilities in the White House included: managing the president’s office, where she oversaw communications at all levels with the president; directing access to the president; maintaining his priorities and schedule; and, as his longest serving senior aide, advising him on a range of issues and presidential matters."

At LinkedIn, Nancy Hernreich Bowen's resume notes that she began working for Teneo in February of 2012. Former President Bill Clinton consulted for Teneo in 2011 and Huma Abedin was secretly hired - while still working at the State Department - by the consulting firm in July of 2012.

On August 15, 2005, Brown was a guest lecturer at the Asia Institute for Political Economy where she spoke about "The Role of the Executive in the US Government" (pdf link). Her biography contains some of the same wording Teneo used in its press release.

"Ms. Nancy Hernreich-Bowen served as Assistant to the President and Director of Oval Office Operations at the White House, helping to manage the President's day to day dealings with the Cabinet, Congress, foreign officials and business leaders. Working with the Chief of Staff, National Security Advisor, Cabinet Secretaries as well as heads of state and CEOs, Ms. Hernreich-Bowen represented the President's interests in the planning and execution of policy initiatives and responses to international events.

Ms. Hernreich-Bowen, who traveled extensively in Asia, Europe and Latin America as a member of official presidential delegations, is now Managing Director of NHB International, a Hong Kong-based consulting firm. She assists international companies with investment, business development, product sourcing and market access needs, building on her extensive experience coordinating policy, private sector and presidential priorities and supporting trade missions, economic summits and international meetings through Asia. Ms. Hernreich-Bowen represents Kissinger McLarty Associates in Hong Kong and assists clients with interests in the Asia-Pacific region.
"
Just like most Teneo consultants, it's extremely difficult to find out exactly what clients Bowen represents and how she uses her U.S. government connections to help them. Due to that secrecy, it's nearly impossible to find out if there were any conflicts of interest with the State Department during Clinton's tenure as Secretary of State, and - as I've reported - many journalists use Teneo analysts as sources or don't mention the firm when they report on some of its known clients.

"Btw, this is an impressive list!" future Hillary Clinton presidential chair Huma Abedin told her boss when she forwarded the July 20, 2011 email from Bowen on July 25, the day of the Hong Kong speech (pdf link). And Bowen offered to call ahead and make arrangements with some of the jewelry merchants she was recommending to Clinton.

Bowen added, "Let me know what else you might be interested in shopping for and I'll make additional suggestions. See you Monday and do let me know if there is anything else I can do for you."

During her Hong Kong speech, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton noted that "it was made possible by the U.S., Hong Kong, and Macau chambers of commerce and the Asia Society. And I thank the chamber very much on a personal level for its support of the U.S. Pavilion at the Shanghai Expo. I have been called the mother of the pavilion, which is actually one of the nicer things I’ve been called – (laughter) – during my very long public career."

"Hong Kong stood out then, as it does today, as a symbol of the open exchange of goods and ideas," Clinton added. "People were drawn to this place from every part of the world, even far away Arkansas, as evidenced by a good friend of ours from Arkansas, Nancy Hernreich Bowen, who is here with us today."

Clinton said she came to Hong Kong "to talk about how the nations of this region and the United States can intensify our economic partnership on behalf of ourselves, each other, and the world, and how together we can work toward a future of prosperity and opportunity for people everywhere."

Bowen also works as an "expert" for ChinaGoAbroad, and her biography at their website also continues similar wording to her Teneo biography, touting her US government connections.
"Nancy Hernreich Bowen is currently the Managing Director for Asia with Teneo Strategy, an integrated global advisory firm that provides consulting, investment banking, business intelligence and restructuring capabilities at the Chairman and CEO level across a broad range of industries and sectors. She served as Managing Director for the Clinton Global Initiative Asia from 2007 to 2008, and has lived and worked in Asia since 2001 in her capacity as founder and Managing Director of her own firm, NHBI, and as a Senior Advisor to McLarty Associates. Prior to her time in Asia, she served as an Assistant to the President and Director of Oval Office Operations in the Clinton White House.

In her current role, Ms. Bowen oversees Teneo’s activities in Asia, bringing decades of experience and relationships in business and politics to support companies throughout the region. Specific expertise include, but are not limited to, public affairs, government affairs, crisis management and communications, market entry and development, identification and due diligence of joint venture partners and investment opportunities, as well as problem solving across a broad range of complex markets.

As Managing Director of the Clinton Global Initiative Asia from September 2007 to December 2008, Ms. Bowen was responsible for the planning and execution of a two day event that brought together over 400 of the most influential Asian leaders across business, government and civil society. The CGI Asia Hong Kong meeting was the first CGI meeting held outside of the United States and provided these leaders with an opportunity to discuss important global issues and to make personal, actionable commitments to help solve challenges in the areas of education, health, climate change and energy.

As Assistant to the President and Director of Oval Office Operations from 1993-2001, Ms. Bowen designed and implemented the systems that enabled the White House staff, Cabinet Secretaries and other parties to interact with the President. While overseeing the President’s contact with Congressional leaders and other elected officials, corporate leaders and foreign officials, Ms. Bowen had frequent direct contact with parties at the highest levels. She also traveled extensively with the president to countries throughout Asia, Europe and Latin America.

Within the White House, Ms. Bowen coordinated daily with the White House Chief of Staff, the National Security Advisor and Cabinet Secretaries. In this capacity, she represented the President's interests in the planning and execution of his priorities. As the President’s longest serving senior aide, one of her key roles was to manage the competing demands for the President's time and attention, and to make decisions that had positive policy and public relations ramifications. She managed an extensive staff in the White House and was responsible for the budget of her office. In her capacity as advisor to the President, Mrs. Bowen was required to be well versed in domestic and foreign issues, exercised impeccable judgment and maintained absolute discretion and utmost diplomacy.

Prior to joining the White House, Ms. Bowen was the Director of Scheduling for Governor Clinton from 1985 to 1993. She currently serves on the boards of several non-profit organizations.
"
According to a ChinaGoAbroad press release, "On 23 July 2015, the Reignwood Group and Sinopec Engineering Group signed an MOU in Beijing for the joint development of a huge new industrial park in East Kalimantan, Indonesia. The park will house coal chemical plants, steel mills, shipyards and ports. Total investment for the project is expected to range between US$ 18-20bn."

"ChinaGoAbroad and TransAsia Lawyers are honored to have been appointed to provide strategic transactional advice and legal services, respectively, to the Chairman of the Reignwood Group," the press release added.

On April 16, 2013, a press release announced, "Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT] has announced that it is working with Reignwood Group to develop an Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) pilot power plant off the coast of southern China. A memorandum of agreement between the two companies was signed in Beijing on Saturday. Following the ceremony, both companies met with United States Secretary of State John Kerry during his first official state visit to the People’s Republic of China."

"The 10-megawatt offshore plant, to be designed by Lockheed Martin, will be the largest OTEC project developed to date, supplying 100 percent of the power needed for a green resort to be built by Reignwood Group," the press release continued. "In addition, the agreement could lay the foundation for the development of several additional OTEC power plants ranging in size from 10 to 100 megawatts, for a potential multi-billion dollar value."

It added, "In addition to several other green energy-related projects across a variety of industries, Reignwood Group is currently developing two large scale low-carbon resort communities, with others planned in key locations in China. Using Lockheed Martin’s OTEC technology to power a new resort will help the company to develop its first net-zero community."

According to a Reuters article published today, "China summoned the U.S. charge d'affaires in Beijing to protest against the U.S. administration's authorization of $1.83 billion arms sales to Taiwan and said it would impose sanctions on the firms involved, China's state news agency Xinhua reported."

"Vice Foreign Minister Zheng Zeguang, who summoned U.S. charge Kaye Lee", Reuters reported via Xinhau, "described the U.S. sales authorization announced on Wednesday as going against international law and basic norms of international relations and said that they 'severely' harmed China's sovereignty and security. 'To safeguard our national interests, China has decided to take necessary measures, including imposing sanctions against the companies involved in the arms sale,' Zheng said."

As Reuters noted, "Raytheon RTN.N and Lockheed Martin were the main contractors for weapons in the sales authorized on Wednesday," but it's "not clear what impact Chinese actions might have on the firms. In 2013, Lockheed Martin signed an agreement with the Thailand-based Reignwood Group to build a 10-megawatt offshore plant to provide energy for a new luxury resort on Hainan island in southern China."

According to FEC filings, on May 7, 2015, Nancy HernReich Bowen donated $2,700 to "Hillary For America". On June 5, 2007 Bowen contributed $4,600, in total, to "Hillary Clinton for President" for the general and primary elections. And on August 8, 2008, Bowen gave $2,300 to "Friends of Hillary."

12/19 UPDATE

Three years after former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton singled out her longtime friend - who used to work in the Clinton White House and Clinton Global Initiative before becoming a Hong Kong based consultant to unknown clients, and has donated nearly $10,000 to the leading Democratic presidential candidate's campaigns - in a Hong Kong speech promoting economic relations with East Asia, China's official Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC) held a luncheon for the Teneo Strategy Managing Director.

At its website, a picture sourced to the foreign ministry's Department of American and Oceanian Affairs, shows the beaming Teneo Strategy Managing Director Nancy Hernreich Bowen posing with CPAFFC's president, two other executives and an unidentified person (who may be Teneo CEO Declan Kelly - the former US Economic Advisor to No. Ireland who was appointed by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, after raising millions for her unsuccessful 2008 presidential campaign).

"President Li Xiaoling met with and held a luncheon for Ms. Nancy Hernreich Bowen, Managing Directer, Teneo Strategy (Asia) on 10th February in Beijing," CPAFFC's website announced in 2014. "President Li briefed Ms. Bowen on the work of people-to-people diplomacy CPAFFC carried out with the United States over the past years, noting that the strengthening of people-to-people exchange between our two nations can play a critical role in helping build a new type of major country relationship between China and the USA."

The website added, "Ms. Bowen expressed thanks to President Li for taking time out of her busy schedule to meet with her, and she said that the closer economic and trade cooperation is conducive to the overall development of China-US relations, she was willing to provide necessary assistance. Vice President Xie Yuan attended the above-mentioned activities."

Three months later, according to the CPAFFC website, "The Sixth China-US Relations Conference, hosted by the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries and Texas A&M University, co-hosted by Peking University Health Science Center and the Texas Medical Center was held from May 11 to 13 in Houston, Texas, United States."

"The participants include Mr. Xu Kuangdi, vice chairman of the 10th National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and president of China-US People’s Association, Chinese Ambassador Cui Tiankai to the U.S., President Li Xiaolin of CPAFFC, Vice Minister Liu Qian of the National Health and Family Planning Commission, Neil Bush, third son of former U.S. President George H.W.Bush and president of the Points of Light Foundation, President Michael Young of Texas A&M University, Mayor Annise Parker of Houston, Thomas Frieden, Director of U.S. Centers for Disease Control. U.S. President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Bidden sent congratulatory messages respectively to the conference," the website added.
"U.S. President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Bidden sent congratulatory messages respectively to the conference. President Obama said 'The world we live in today is a community of nations. The United States and China are dedicated to realizing a future that shines with the health of all people---one we will only reach by working together. In addressing global health challenges, America and China have a common interest of historic consequence. Together, America and China can rise to the challenges of our changing world and meet our moral obligations.' Vice President Bidden said that the cooperation between U.S. and China on global issues like infectious diseases are doing the ground work for US-China relations, and will benefit all people.

Xu Kuangdi delivered a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the conference. He spoke highly of the great impact that the past five China-US Relations Conferences have made and highly commended President George H.W. Bush’s consistent efforts and contribution to the development of China-US relations and the growth of China-US friendship, as well as Neil Bush’s efforts in carrying on this conference forward. He also praised the great efforts that the hosting organizations---the CPAFFC and Texas A&M University have done. He pointed out that in the 21st century, the world is faced with increasing nonconventional security and global challenges. It is crucial for China and the U.S. to work together in combating the common challenges, which is pivotal for peace and progress of mankind.

...

During the conference, over 400 government officials, experts and business leaders attended the conference and held in-depth discussion on national preparedness of public health, emergence response, prevention and control of infectious diseases like Ebola, and the role of private sector in the global health response system. They also brought up constructive proposals on the future cooperation of China and the U.S. in relevant fields.

Before the conference opens, Xu Kuangdi, Li Xiaolin, Cui Tiankai and Li Qiangmin paid a visit to President George H.W. Bush and Mrs. Barbara Bush at Neil Bush’s home in Houston.
"
Four months before her Hong Kong speech, on March 11, 2011, the U.S. State Department's DIPNOTE blog noted that "From February 25-28, Hunan Province Party Secretary Zhou Qiang visited Washington, DC to attend the National Governors Association (NGA) Winter Meeting. Secretary Zhou's visit is the first by a Chinese provincial leader under a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed by Secretary Hillary Clinton and Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi in January concerning the establishment of a U.S.-China Governors Forum to promote subnational cooperation. The forum will serve as a platform to promote peer-to-peer exchanges between U.S. state governors and Chinese provincial party secretaries and governors and will be co-convened by the NGA and the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC), the NGA's counterpart in China."

"Secretary Clinton greeted Party Secretary Zhou and CPAFFC Vice President Madam Li Xiaolin at the U.S. Department of State and expressed her continuing support for the subnational effort," DIPNOTE blog continued. "Party Secretary Zhou and Madam Li also met with Under Secretary for Economic, Energy, and Agricultural Affairs Robert Hormats, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary Daniel Kritenbrink, and National Security Council Senior Director for Asian Affairs Jeff Bader."

It added, "During the NGA meeting, two other accords were signed, one between the NGA and the CPAFFC formally establishing the U.S.-China Governors Forum and the other between Hunan Province and the State of Delaware to increase business exchanges and investment promotion. With the agreement, Governor Markell hopes to increase jobs and opportunities for the citizens of Delaware by increasing exports and attracting investment from international employers."

Monday, December 7, 2015

Teneo handpicking media for FIFA briefer raised a 'fuss', journo complains

On the evening before more arrests were made in the ongoing investigation of alleged corruption by FIFA officials, a controversial firm co-founded by former President Bill Clinton's "body man" and two Hillary Clinton fundraisers - including CEO Declan Kelly, who was appointed US Economic Envoy to No. Ireland by the former Secretary of State now leading Democratic polls as she runs for president again - was accused of handpicking media for a press conference. As I exclusively reported on July 16, Teneo was paid $75,000 for fundraising to lobby FIFA officials with "Honorary Chairman William Clinton" by the USA Bid Committee which lost to Qatar the rights to host the 2022 World Cup.

"Honduran Alfredo Hawit, acting president of CONCACAF, and Paraguay’s Juan Angel Napout, president of CONMEBOL – the two confederations that provide the 16 nations who compete in the Copa America – were picked up in dawn raids at the Baur au Lac Hotel in Zurich by Swiss police acting on instructions from the US Department of Justice," UK journalist Charles Sale reported for the Daily Mail on December 4.

The Wednesday evening press conference seemed to center on plans to increase the World Cup field to 40 nations and, perhaps, the news that another firm had secured television rights to another soccer tournament. The timing before the arrests appears to be somewhat convenient, since Teneo has many former US government employees working for it, and Attorney General Loretta Lynch launched the FIFA probe when she began her second term as a U.S. Attorney in Brooklyn in 2010, after being nominated by former Bill Clinton in 1999. As Sari Horwitz reported for The Washington Post on May 27, "In November 2010, former president Bill Clinton and then-Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. traveled to Zurich to lobby soccer’s world governing body in support of the U.S. bid to host the 2022 World Cup."

"Sports marketing giants IMG have embarrassingly received plaudits for winning TV rights to the 2016 Copa America tournament from the two FIFA chiefs arrested on Thursday on suspicion of accepting millions of dollars in bribes," Sale reported last Thursday.

Later, in the same story, Sale complained, "PR firm Teneo, who represent the American lawyers now effectively running FIFA, helped perpetuate the divisive atmosphere in Zurich by inviting a few handpicked media to a briefing with acting secretary general Markus Kattner the night before Thursday's press conference. A FIFA spokesman said it was common practice for such briefings to take place with a variety of media."

"There was a fuss," Sale told me on Saturday. When he asked me what would be the motive for Teneo "handpicking" media, I told him that I have been reporting on how journalists use the firm as sources for their stories, without mentioning its ties to the Clintons, and ducking questions related to longtime Hillary Clinton aide - and vice chair of her presidential campaign - Huma Abedin's controversial stint there from 2012 to 2013, while still working for the State Department.

In my September 16 article, "Controversial firm linked to Clintons handles press for $17.7 billion Cablevision deal," I reported, "The New York Times appears to have published a 'scoop' they received from a public relations firm tied to the top presidential candidate - but omitted mentioning either in their article - just to get an exclusive a few hours early. And since it's related to the creation of what will be the '#4 cable operator in the US market', which affects millions of US voters, this omission of news might be disturbing to watchdogs. Teneo sometimes gets paid hundreds of thousands of dollars a month by clients, and both entities inherently have common ground to make each other look good to the public.
"Teneo is a senior-led advisory firm with deep collective experience working at the highest echelons of the public and private sectors," the Teneo Holdings website states. "Our team has a rich knowledge base and global network of relationships that we bring to bear on behalf of our clients every day."

If that "global network of relationships" includes New York Times reporters, then - in a sense - this rapidly growing international firm, which has been criticized for using government connections across the world to woo clients and accused of milking those links, controls the media on multiple levels. Teneo is especially secretive about their long list of clients - including "the CEOs of many Fortune 100 companies across a diverse range of industry sectors" and "senior leaders of many of the world’s largest and most complex companies and organizations" - and notorious for not commenting on controversies involving itself.
I added, "In their rush to publish an exclusive a few hours early, the reporters didn't even apparently attempt to contact any critics of the deal. And a day later, any story already is in danger of becoming old news. Business journalists reporting on firms that have deep political ties and that will affect how many Americans receive their news should leave room for criticism in all their articles. But not quoting critics might have been a condition of the 'scoop', as well."

Last year, on December 8, 2014, Michael J. de la Merced, "scooped" the world on a story directly related to Teneo, reporting, "Teneo, a corporate advisory firm with an unusually broad array of businesses, has secured backing from the big private equity firm BC Partners, the company plans to disclose this week."

However, Merced's article doesn't make any reference to how he learned about the "company plans". The New York Times reporter doesn't mention a source, named or unnamed, which might be a violation of the paper's rules on journalism ethics.

Merced does paraphrase an exclusive quote he apparently got from one of Teneo's presidents, but, again, there are ethical concerns, if a top business journalist for - arguably - the most important paper in America is publishing stories - that omit key information - based on tips from a powerful P.R. firm. "The investment from BC Partners came about through friendships that some of the firm’s senior executives have with Teneo’s management, according to Richard Powell, the head of Teneo’s communications arm."

I've also reported in two stories after the ISIS-linked attacks in Paris, about how the media rely on Teneo Intelligence consultants for stories, even though the firm is secretive about what oil companies it represents. See "During terror attacks, Teneo Intelligence Managing Director Crispin Hawes reassures oil investors" and "Analysts at consulting firm tied to Hillary Clinton are often critical of military action against ISIS" for more on this, and I will have related stories in the future.

A New York Times reporter who apparently attended last week's "hand-picked" press conference handled by Teneo, left out its connections to the Clintons in his story, but he wasn't exactly fawning of what Kattner said before and after the arrests.

"At a briefing with reporters Wednesday night, Mr. Kattner staunchly defended the right of the executive committee to implement such a change on its own, despite the significance of the decision and despite its lack of consultation with any of the stakeholders it would affect, notably television rights-holders, sponsors and national and continental federations," Sam Borden reported for The New York Times on December 5th.

Borden's story continued, "(He also defended as proper the bizarre inclusion of an item in the proposal that had nothing to do with governance — the imminent expansion of the World Cup to 40 teams from the current 32 — when it seemed to be little more than a sweetener for FIFA members who will vote to ratify these changes at February’s Congress.)"

"Even Thursday, after more reasoned voices on FIFA’s executive committee prevailed and the possible World Cup expansion was separated from the governance items, Mr. Kattner did not seem to grasp the latent hypocrisy that would have come with an executive committee’s endorsing proposals that would reduce its power while, simultaneously, using that power to make a unilateral decision on a huge change to a showpiece event," Borden added.

However, Borden did praise FIFA for hiring Teneo, sometime in late June and early July, a few weeks before the news broke, another UK journalist told me over the summer.

"In recent months, FIFA has hired a well-regarded American public relations firm, Teneo, to shepherd it through this crisis," Borden wrote, instead of calling it controversial due to its tight-lipped connections to governments across the globe and the Clintons. "It was a good decision, but one that cannot be a panacea. FIFA needs to change. Identifying and effecting new structures and policies and functions is one part of that. The other part — a part that, in some ways, is even more significant — is finding the right people to make the public believe in the changes."

Like other New York Times reporters I have criticized for their stories on Teneo clients which don't mention either Clinton, Borden ignored many tweets I made, such as, "I guess when Teneo 'hand-picks' you to attend exclusive FIFA press conference, it's "smart" to call them 'well-regarded' in NYT" and, "I'm sure you're working hard on story on how 'well-regarded' Teneo is probably secretly lobbying US gov't officials for FIFA. ;) @SamBorden."

Last Wednesday's "handpicked" press conference also included reporters from the AFP, Reuters, the BBC and Swiss and German news outlets, according to Lane.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

New York Times journalist Michael Schmidt wrongly reports on Hillary Clinton emails again

(Updates added from June 8 to June 12, 2017, in light of recent news events.)

6/8/17 Update: Why is the following significant? Essentially, the adviser to former FBI Director James Comey - who once worked with him in US Attorney's office - has been a source for New York Times reporter Michael S. Schmidt for at least nine years. Schmidt reported many things incorrectly about Hillary Clinton during her unsuccessful 2016 presidency campaign, but he also got a lot of great scoops. Some Clinton supporters believe Comey may have violated the Hatch Act just before the election, and - one of the reasons - he was fired by President Trump as FBI director was due to wrongful testimony regarding her longtime aide, Huma Abedin.

On November 2, 2016, a NYT article - Schmidt co-wrote - reported, "Daniel C. Richman, an adviser to Mr. Comey and a Columbia University law professor, argued that despite the backlash, Mr. Comey’s decision to inform Congress preserved the F.B.I.’s independence, which will ultimately benefit the next president."

Defending Comey, Richman told the paper: "Those arguing that the director should have remained silent until the new emails could be reviewed — even if that process lasted, or was delayed, until after the election — give too little thought to the governing that needs to happen after November. If the F.B.I. director doesn’t have the credibility to keep Congress from interfering in the bureau’s work and to assure Congress that a matter has been or is being looked into, the new administration will pay a high price."

Schmidt and Richman appeared as guests during alternate halves of a PBS NewsHour broadcast last Halloween, three days after Comey sent his October 28 letter - to eight Republican chairmen of Congressional committees, seven Democratic ranking members and vice chairman of the Select Committee of Intelligence Sen. Dianne Feinstein - in order to "supplement [his] previous testimony" that the FBI had "completed its investigation of former Secretary Clinton's personal email server." The letter was very brief, but reverberated at the end: "I believe it is important to update your Committees about our efforts in light of my previous testimony."

"In connection with an unrelated case, the FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation,” Comey wrote. "I am writing to inform you that the investigative team briefed me on this yesterday, and I agreed that the FBI should take appropriate investigative steps designed to allow investigators to review those emails to determine whether they contain classified information, as well as to assess their importance to our investigation."

On May 3, 2017, editor-in-chief Nate Silver claimed at FiveThirtyEight - which is now owned by ESPN, but had a "partnership agreement" and was published at the NY Times from 2010 to 2012 - that this letter "upended the news cycle and soon halved Clinton’s lead in the polls, imperiling her position in the Electoral College." Silver also noted, "The article that led The New York Times’s website the morning after the election did not mention Comey or 'FBI' even once — a bizarre development considering the dramatic headlines that the Times had given to the letter while the campaign was underway."

On the October 31st NewsHour show, New York Times reporter Schmidt - who was criticized a few times by the Clinton campaign for misreporting that had to be corrected - brought up the "classified" word first, and didn't note that there weren't any emails that were marked classified before they were sent by the Democratic presidential candidate and her former State Department staffers to private accounts. "That’s the real question here, whether any of the e-mails they’re in possession of are ones they had before that they know are classified or they know they looked at or if these are entirely a new batch," Schmidt said.

Schmidt defended the letter and wrongly predicted: "I sort of find it hard to believe that the FBI would go with such an aggressive step of telling Congress without really having some idea of what is truly here. If these end up to be just a bunch of duplicates, then this will have been a big hubbub over nothing." Politico's Josh Gerstein countered that "Comey might have violated Justice Department policy," and said, "We know from our other reporting that Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates strongly advised Comey against sending the letter, but he felt he needed to, so he did it anyway."

Without realizing that her next guest had been a Schmidt source for many articles, host Judy Woodruff asked him, "Is it your understanding from your reporting that FBI officials already know what’s here or are they truly looking for something unknown?" The New York Times journalist responded, "If you look at Director Comey’s letter to Congress, he basically says, we haven’t had a chance to look at these yet...so I wonder what the FBI really knows here. And did that lead them to push as far as they did?"

When asked if "Comey acted because of pressure of some sort from FBI agents who felt that he wasn’t being tough enough on Hillary Clinton", Schmidt said, "I find that hard to believe."

"I think that the line FBI agents who really knew what was going on with the e-mail investigation understood why Director Comey came out and said that the bureau wasn’t recommending charges," Schmidt said, before adding, "I think they realized that there wasn’t criminal intent there," and "So the idea that Director Comey would do this facing some insurrection by FBI agents, I think, is probably not true."

In the following half of the NewsHour broadcast, Woodruff welcomed Richman, introducing him as a "professor at Columbia Law School...a former federal prosecutor, himself, and current policy adviser to Director Comey." Richman sounded much like Schmidt, when he said that Comey was "protecting the credibility of the organization and of his own credibility with Congress," and had been "confronted with very little notice with a trove of e-mails that appeared to be pertinent."

Woodruff's other guest, Arent Fox attorney and partner Peter Zeidenberg - who "spent 17 years at the Justice Department as a federal prosecutor" and "also joined 100 others in an open letter critical of Comey’s actions" - said he thought the then FBI director was "premature to notify Congress before he had had a chance to actually examine these e-mails," that "it was a mistake," adding, "And, frankly, I think it was irresponsible to do it and drop this bomb."

"And, as Josh Gerstein mentioned, it’s very possible, if not likely, that all these e-mails have been looked at already," Zeidenberg told Woodruff. "They could all be duplicates."

Woodruff asked Comey's spokesman if there was "inconsistency", since, that day "the Clinton campaign and others pointed out that there is now new reporting that Director Comey didn’t want it to be known that the administration had confirmed that the Russians were behind the hacking of the Democratic National Committee, arguing that it was too close to the election, that this would influence the election."

Five months before Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway would catch heat over "alternative facts", Richman said, "There is only inconsistency, in the sense that there are really different facts."

Richman added: "And I certainly don’t know all the facts with regard to the internal deliberations with regard to the Russian hacking. But, yes, it certainly is the norm that the department doesn’t confirm or deny investigations and doesn’t confirm or deny the focus on any particular party."

"James Comey told a Senate committee on Thursday he was behind the leak of a memo he wrote that said President Donald Trump asked him to stem the FBI’s investigation to former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn," Max Kutner reports for Newsweek. "The account appeared in The New York Times in May, days after the president fired Comey as FBI director."

Kutner adds: "Comey did not name the friend, but Columbia Law School professor Daniel Richman reportedly confirmed he is that person to the Financial Times and CNN. In an email to Newsweek, he declined to comment."

"Richman’s faculty webpage says he is 'currently an adviser to FBI Director James B. Comey.' The New York Times previously quoted Richman in multiple articles about the former FBI director, around the same time the newspaper published the Flynn article. A New Yorker article in May quoted him and described him as Comey’s 'unofficial media surrogate.'"
"The professor is a former federal prosecutor and served as chief appellate attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, where Comey also worked," Kutner notes. NBC News adds: "Richman and Comey’s ties run deep, and the pair has been friends for 30 years, the law professor told NBC News last fall."

Schmidt's byline appears on multiple Comey stories that quote Richman, including "F.B.I.’s Email Disclosure Broke a Pattern Followed Even This Summer" (1/11/16), "Comey Tried to Shield the F.B.I. From Politics. Then He Shaped an Election." (4/22/17), and "‘Enough Was Enough’: How Festering Anger at Comey Ended in His Firing" (5/10/17).

Schmidt has cited Richman as a source - on the record - for his New York Times articles going back at least nine years to 2008, when he reported many stories related to drugs and baseball.

Some examples include: "Canseco Is Said to Seek Favor to Omit Name" (1/24/08), "Motion Would Take Aim At Clemens's Top Lawyer" (2/26/08), "Balco Prosecutors Target Trainer’s Wife" (2/20/08), and "Contradictions in Kirk Radomski’s Book Could Benefit Clemens" (1/25/09).

Schmidt has apparently ducked questions from multiple media organizations regarding his outed relationship with Richman, but he probably isn't the only journalist at the Times and other outlets that has used the former FBI director's friend, colleague, advisor and spokesman as an unnamed source for articles that have been published regarding Russian interference in the 2016 elections, Clinton and Abedin controversies surrounding the use of a private email server, and the presidential race itself.

However, Schmidt got a lot of things wrong in his reporting for the New York Times and in other media appearances, such as the PBS broadcast, but doesn't seem to care or ever apologize for his role in creating - arguably - "fake news". Despite being part of the story, on June 8th, Schmidt conducted a Facebook Live discussion video for the New York Times called "Key Takeaways From Comey's Testimony." One reader asked if Comey would face any "legal repercussions" for "leaks" from himself and "friends" to the media. Schmidt never mentions his source by name.

"Comey explained today how he had instructed one of his friends to put out to the media the contents of one of these memos," Schmidt said, then placed both hands against his chest to add, "I was the recipient of that memo." On May 16, Schmidt had reported, "The New York Times has not viewed a copy of the memo, which is unclassified, but one of Mr. Comey's associates read parts of it to a Times reporter." Schmidt said he didn't think Comey would face any "legal jeopardy" because the "contents of the memo were not classified."

Schmidt claimed "Comey went to great lengths to make sure that the memos were not classified I believe, in part, because if he ever needed to get them out there, that made it much easier." He added, "If they were classified it would have been very difficult to declassify them and get information from them out."


(Editor's note: Original story as follows)

New York Times journalist Michael Schmidt desperately needs better editors or researchers before publishing articles on Hillary Clinton emails. In his latest story, he almost definitely assumes wrongly regarding the subject of a completely redacted email.

"Many of the emails released on Monday were heavily redacted, providing only tantalizing hints of what was being discussed. One exchange between Mrs. Clinton and Huma Abedin, a close aide, had the subject line 'Koch,' an apparent reference to either David H. or Charles G. Koch, the billionaire brothers who have helped finance conservative causes. Other than the subject, the entire email was redacted," Michael Schmidt almost definitely misreports.

Since former Democratic NYC Mayor Ed Koch died on February 1, 2013, the Clinton email (pdf link) presumably refers to him. Koch also was a supporter of Hillary Clinton when she ran for president in 2008.



Update: Late Tuesday evening, The New York Times finally fixed Schmidt's article. The line was changed to "One exchange between Mrs. Clinton and Huma Abedin, a close aide, had the subject line 'Koch,' a reference to Ed Koch, the former mayor of New York City, according to the Clinton campaign." Popular Internet podcaster @VinceInTheBay tweeted, "There's a correction citing Clinton source. Why didn't he ask campaign before publishing?" Instead of an apology to readers, since it was reported in the newspaper and clearly wasn't fact-checked, there is an insufficient correction that states, "An earlier version of this article stated incorrectly the subject of a Hillary Clinton email that the State Department released on Nov. 30. The subject line “Koch,” was a reference to Ed Koch, the former mayor of New York City, according to the Clinton campaign; it was not an apparent reference to either David H. or Charles G. Koch, the billionaire brothers who have helped finance conservative causes."

"The New York Times made small but significant changes to an exclusive report about a potential criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton's State Department email account late Thursday night, but provided no notification of or explanation for of the changes," Dylan Byers reported for Politico on July 24.
"The paper initially reported that two inspectors general have asked the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation 'into whether Hillary Rodham Clinton mishandled sensitive government information on a private email account she used as secretary of state.'

That clause, which cast Clinton as the target of the potential criminal probe, was later changed: the inspectors general now were asking for an inquiry 'into whether sensitive government information was mishandled in connection with the personal email account Hillary Rodham Clinton used as secretary of state.'

The Times also changed the headline of the story, from 'Criminal Inquiry Sought in Hillary Clinton’s Use of Email" to "Criminal Inquiry Is Sought in Clinton Email Account,' reflecting a similar recasting of Clinton's possible role. The article's URL was also changed to reflect the new headline.

As of early Friday morning, the Times article contained no update, notification, clarification or correction regarding the changes made to the article.

One of the reporters of the story, Michael Schmidt, explained early Friday that the Clinton campaign had complained about the story to the Times.

'It was a response to complaints we received from the Clinton camp that we thought were reasonable, and we made them,' Schmidt said.
"
As I reported in July, The New York Times article by Michael S. Schmidt and Matt Apuzzo originally published on July 23, 2015 was full of so many mistakes that it probably merits its own internal probe, but one of the corrections added afterwards seems to blame "senior government officials" for the paper's misreporting.

"An article and a headline in some editions on Friday about a request to the Justice Department for an investigation regarding Hillary Clinton’s personal email account while she was secretary of state misstated the nature of the request, using information from senior government officials," a New York Times correction added to the article on July 25 stated, after the paper falsely reported the 2016 presidential candidate was facing a 'criminal referral' by two Inspectors Generals. "It addressed the potential compromise of classified information in connection with that email account. It did not specifically request an investigation into Mrs. Clinton."

A second New York Times correction to the same article on July 26 added, "An article in some editions on Friday about a request to the Justice Department for an investigation regarding Hillary Clinton’s personal email account while she was secretary of state referred incorrectly, using information from senior government officials, to the request. It was a 'security referral,' pertaining to possible mishandling of classified information, officials said, not a 'criminal referral.'"

Michael S. Schimdt has also ignored multiple tweets I've sent him regarding an article he wrote for The New York Times in March, which I believe wrongly reported that the Clinton aide who set up the private server currently works for Teneo. On March 17, 2015 Amy Chozick tweeted that the New York Times "will look into this," after I told her that the article seemed to be wrong about Justin Cooper's current employment. Other media outlets seem to have followed the Times lead, and may be wrongly reporting that he is currently with Teneo. The article was never corrected, and Chozick has ignored all the tweets I've sent her since then (see "Questions linger about Clintons-linked firm co-founded by former US Economic Envoy to Northern Ireland").

On October 6 I reported, Last week, apparently without fact-checking, some members of the media - including The New York Times editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal - seemingly repeated the bogus (see The Hill) Clinton campaign assertion that Benghazi was the longest House Committee probe ever. Salon Deputy Politics Editor Sophia Tesfaye - who is also a researcher for Media Matters For America (who have defended the Clintons for a long time, as I reported with RAW STORY in 2006: "Senator Clinton made personal phone calls to raise money for ‘nonpartisan’ defender, employees say"), according to her LinkedIn resume - went further and compared it to investigations such as the Hurricane Katrina, Warren Commission, and Iran-Contra probes, without noting that most consider those probes too short or cover-ups of scandals. Ms. Tesfaye ignored tweets I sent her asking about this, but she - at least - updated her Salon story, while the Rosenthal editorial at The New York Times remains uncorrected.

A correction was finally added to Rosenthal's column eight days after it was published, after I tweeted Anna North - who "writes on cultural topics for the editorial page and is the editor of [The New York Times' editorial page editor's] blog": "When you edited @andyrNYT column with bogus Benghazi probe claim, did you fact-check? Will you fix? @annanorthtweets http://ronbryn.blogspot.com/2015/10/democrats-spin-as-if-it-were-classified.html". However, I still think the correction should contain an explanation, especially since it appears to be based on a Clinton 2016 talking point.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Despite 'surveillance' clause, Canadian bank behind Hillary Clinton speeches denies collecting info on browsing activity

A Canadian bank that paid top US Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton up to $2 million or more for speeches was accused of gathering "information on all of its customers' online activities, even those that aren't banking-related."

On November 30, Rosa Marchitelli reported for "Go Public" on CBC News, "two lines" in its "66-page Visa cardholder agreement" allowed "Canada's second-biggest bank...to collect details about anything — and everything — customers do online."

Colin Laughlan - who "has a background in privacy issues as a former journalist and communications specialist" - noticed that in the "privacy section" of TD Bank's customer agreement (pdf link), it stated that, "COLLECTING AND USING YOUR INFORMATION — At the time you request to begin a relationship with us and during the course of our relationship, we may collect information including: Details about your browsing activity on your browser or mobile device. Your preferences and activities."

"I couldn't see any reason they had to do that sort of surveillance on Canadians and they weren't being particularly forthright about it," Laughlan told CBC News. "This was slipped in to the fine print of the policy and I'm well aware that the vast majority of people don't read these things."

Laughlan said he received three separate agreements that contained the same clause, and it took over eighteen months of complaints before turning to the media."

"Go Public put the issue to TD Bank Group, which responded with an email saying the intention was to allow the bank to collect information only when customers use TD websites and TD mobile apps," Marchitelli reported.
"'TD has never, at any time, collected general information regarding details about customers' browsing activity, their browser or mobile device,' the statement said.

The bank did remove the browsing clause from its online cardholder agreement, but it remains part of the printed version mailed out to customers. The bank tells Go Public that will change when the paper agreements need to be reprinted.

It will keep, however, the line that allows it to monitor customers' 'preferences and activities.' The bank said it uses that information for banking purposes, including managing products and services and assessing risk.
"
The CBC report added, "Sharon Polsky, the president of the Privacy and Access Council of Canada, believes that kind of general wording in user agreements opens Canadians up to sharing far more than they intended, and not just with banks," and that "TD seemed to be keeping its options open when it put the access to browsing information clauses in its Visa cardholder agreements."

"The waters are very murky," Polsky told CBC. "People do not realize very often that their information is being disclosed...It has a creepy factor...They can create a very, very detailed profile of each of us...what we do, where we go, what we think."

Earlier today, irate TD Bank customer @fred_diblasio tweeted, "I always liked @TD_Canada but this is a serious privacy issue!!! Read the fine print! Let them know your views!" @Schtaunkhauser tweeted, "And they worked so hard to obtain my trust. @TD_Canada has just blown it."

At its Twitter account, the bank is directing concerned customers to its online response which states, "CBC Go Public published and broadcast a story about wording in TD's credit card agreements, which incorrectly implied that TD could be monitoring customers' internet browsing habits. Here are the facts, which we repeatedly provided to the CBC."
"TD does not and has never collected general information regarding details about customers' browsing activity, their browser or mobile device. The language was in our agreements because our intention was that we may collect information when our customers use TD websites and TD Mobile Apps. We understand the wording may have caused concern. We removed it from our Online Privacy Agreement on TD.com in 2014. This reference will also be removed from print applications and agreements as they come up for renewed printing, since changes to printed Agreements take time to implement.

Preferences and activities in our agreement refer to customer interactions; i.e. preference to bank online or in person. Additional examples include: Receiving information by email or hard copy; Setting up direct deposit for payroll; Transaction frequency; Customer dealings with TD (in person, over the phone, at the ATM, on mobile, through email or the Internet).

Knowing this information helps us provide the service customers need and expect. We hope this clearly explains our practices and are available to answer questions or concerns from customers.
"
Before the CBC report, in a November 26 interview with Brand Channel, TD Bank Group's chief marketing officer and executive vice president Dominic Mercuri said, "The essence of the TD brand is about making banking comfortable and delivering legendary customer experiences at every point of interaction—in branch, over the phone, online and through our mobile app. As we look to be there for our customers, wherever they are, this extends to creating meaningful connections in their communities and through their social networks."

"We came to the social media space pretty early for a bank with the launch of a Facebook page in 2007. To meet the needs of our customers, we’ve grown on other platforms including Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and LinkedIn," Mercuri added. "In 2010, we launched our flagship program, 'Social Customer Service,' to connect with customers via Twitter and Facebook, and now have more than 70 agents dedicated to monitoring and responding to customers seven days a week, 17 hours a day throughout North America."

On May 31, Ryan Grim and Paul Blumenthal reported for Huffington Post, "Two Canadian banks tightly connected to promoting the controversial Keystone XL pipeline in the United States either fully or partially paid for eight speeches made by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the period not long before she announced her campaign for president. Those speeches put more than $1.6 million in the Democratic candidate's pocket. Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and TD Bank were both primary sponsors of paid Clinton speeches in 2014 and early 2015, although only the former appears on the financial disclosure form she filed May 15.
"Ali Duncan Martin, a TD Bank spokeswoman, told The Huffington Post in an email that the bank sponsored a series of speeches by both Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton starting in 2008. (Bill Clinton received more than $1.6 million for speeches sponsored by TD Bank, according to past financial disclosures.) The bank was the 'title sponsor or a co-sponsor of the events, with most events having a number of sponsors participating,' according to Martin. She declined to say how much the bank spent in sponsoring the speeches."
On June 26, 2014, Philip Rucker, Tom Hamburger and Alexander Becker reported for The Washington Post, "The Post’s analysis found that TD Bank underwrote 10 of Clinton’s speeches and paid him about $1.8 million, making it his largest single sponsor in the financial industry. TD Bank is affiliated with TD Ameritrade, founded by Joe Ricketts, a prominent donor to Republican campaigns and conservative causes."

"TD Bank spokesman Gabriel Weissman said he had 'nothing to add' to the public disclosures," the Post article added. "A spokesman for Ricketts declined to comment."

As Grim and Blumenthal noted, "Some details of Hillary Clinton's Canadian speechifying were first reported by independent journalist Ron Brynaert. The Clinton campaign did not respond to The Huffington Post's request for comment."

In early November, immediately after Clinton's Democratic primary opponent Senator Bernie Sanders bashed her for equivocating for years over whether or not she would support the pipeline, President Obama rejected it.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

State Dept scrubbed name of woman who Hillary Clinton bashed for apparently rejecting appointment

An email forwarded from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's Senior Advisor on political appointments was scrubbed by the State Department when it was published earlier this year. The former First Lady and New York Senator Hillary Clinton - who is the leading Democratic challenger in the 2016 presidential race - bashed the unknown woman's "sense of responsibility" in response to the forwarded email.

Even though the email was published on June 30, 2015, it appears to have gone unreported, perhaps because many news organizations cut back on researchers, and most journalists quickly move on to the next story.



On June 13, 2009, Margaret Carpenter, who "served as a Senior Advisor to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on political appointments" from 2009 to 2010, wrote Department of State Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills, "I finally connected with ___ by phone again this morning. I reiterated our interest in talking with her about the __." Not only was the name of the woman scrubbed, and the rest of the two-page letter, but Carpenter's position in the State Department seems to have been apparently scrubbed, as well.

A little more than an hour later, Mills forwarded the email to Hillary Clinton, adding, "FYI."

"I respect her reasoning, although I regret her sense of responsibility," Hillary Clinton quickly responded five minutes later.

Most probably just referring to the former part of Clinton's response, Mills joked back, "Why? Because it reminds you of someone we know and love - aka you? :)"

The Washington Post reported in October, "During her first four months at the State Department, Mills also held another high-profile job: She worked part time at New York University, negotiating with officials in Abu Dhabi to build a campus in that Persian Gulf city.

Rosalind S. Helderman's article noted, "At the State Department, she was unpaid in those first months, officially designated as a temporary expert-consultant — a status that allowed her to continue to collect outside income while serving as chief of staff. She reported that NYU paid her $198,000 in 2009, when her university work overlapped with her time at the State Department, and that she collected an additional $330,000 in vacation and severance payments when she left the school’s payroll in May 2009."

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Clinton Foundation celebrates top donor and Teneo client Coca-Cola; Coke exec took 'sabbatical' to work on Hillary Clinton campaign

Update 2/10/16: Decades before Coca Cola became a major contributor and partner for the Clinton Foundation, Hillary Clinton defended one of its bottling plants, after it was sued by a former worker, who claimed he was disabled while working there.

In a 2007 article called "The Making of Hillary Clinton", Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Claire wrote that she represented the "Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Arkansas in a lawsuit filed by a disabled former employee who had been denied full retirement benefits by the company." And in their 2007 book, "Her Way: The Hopes and Ambitions of Hillary Rodham Clinton," investigative journalists Jeff Gerth and Don Van Natta - who won Pulitzer Prizes for the New York Times - reported, "In one lawsuit she successfully handled, filed in 1979, her client was the Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Arkansas and its employee retirement plan. A worker, Ronnie Weeks, had sued the company in federal court, claiming he was permanently disabled and had been improperly denied retirement benefits."

On February 6, 2014, anti-Democratic candidate PAC America Rising noted, "Today Hillary Clinton will receive a medal from the Bar Association for her work as a corporate attorney at the Rose Law Firm in Little Rock, Arkansas. It’s unclear why she would want to highlight this resume."

"Maybe she will give a passionate speech about the time she challenged a ballot initiative supported by ACORN that gave low-income Arkansans a break on their utility bills in court," the PAC's website added. "Or the time she defended Coke when they were denying a disabled man named Ronnie Weeks his retirement benefits?" (hat tip: @jethomme)


Coca-Cola has given at least $5-to-10 million to the Clinton Foundation, and, as I've reported, is a client for Teneo: a rapidly growing consulting firm co-founded by former President Bill Clinton "body man" Doug Band, who helped 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's transition into the State Department as President Obama's Secretary of State, and two of her fundraisers, including Declan Kelly, who she appointed as the Economic Envoy to No. Ireland.

On November 6th, 2015, the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, Arkansas "celebrate[d]" an exhibit devoted to Coca-Cola:

"'Share a Coke' with us at the Clinton Presidential Center at the opening of our 42nd temporary exhibit, Coca-Cola: An American Original on Friday, November 6, 2015. The exhibit celebrates the art and history of the contour bottle on its 100th Anniversary. In addition to showcasing the art and history of the iconic bottle itself, the exhibit will explore how the company worked with some of the country’s most noted illustrators and artists—like Andy Warhol, Norman Rockwell, Haddon Sundblom, and Howard Finster—to build its global brand as well as influence pop culture here in the United States and throughout the world.

Join us on November 6, as we celebrate the opening of the exhibit with a private preview of the exhibition and a program with special guests President Bill Clinton and Muhtar Kent, Coca-Cola Chairman of the Board and CEO."
Earlier today, Candice Choi reported for the Associated Press, "A nonprofit founded to combat obesity says the $1.5 million it received from Coke has no influence on its work. But emails obtained by The Associated Press show the world's largest beverage maker was instrumental in shaping the Global Energy Balance Network, which is led by a professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. Coke helped pick the group's leaders, edited its mission statement and suggested articles and videos for its website."

"In an email last November, the group's president tells a top Coke executive: 'I want to help your company avoid the image of being a problem in peoples' lives and back to being a company that brings important and fun things to them.'

Coke executives had similarly high hopes. A proposal circulated via email at the company laid out a vision for a group that would "quickly establish itself as the place the media goes to for comment on any obesity issue.' It said the group would use social media and run a political-style campaign to counter the 'shrill rhetoric' of 'public health extremists' who want to tax or limit foods they deem unhealthy."
In another press release about the exhibit, Clinton Foundation executive director Stephanie S. Streett stated, "Coca-Cola is among the best-known brands in the world and we are thrilled to share its remarkable story with our guests. In addition to showcasing the art and history of the iconic bottle itself, this exhibit will explore how the brand influenced some of the country’s most noted illustrators and artists—like Andy Warhol, Norman Rockwell, Haddon Sundblom, and Howard Finster—as well as pop culture here in the United States and throughout the world.”

At the bottom of the press release, published at the Clinton Foundation's website, there is a paragraph "About The Coca-Cola Company", which claims the company "support[s] active, healthy living":

"The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE: KO) is the world's largest beverage company, refreshing consumers with more than 500 sparkling and still brands. Led by Coca-Cola, one of the world's most valuable and recognizable brands, the Company's portfolio features 20 billion-dollar brands including Diet Coke, Fanta, Sprite, Coca-Cola Zero, vitaminwater, Powerade, Minute Maid, Simply, Georgia and Del Valle. Globally, it is the No. 1 provider of sparkling beverages, ready-to-drink coffees, and juices and juice drinks. Through the world's largest beverage distribution system, consumers in more than 200 countries enjoy Coca-Cola beverages at a rate of 1.9 billion servings a day. With an enduring commitment to building sustainable communities, the Company is focused on initiatives that reduce its environmental footprint, support active, healthy living, create a safe, inclusive work environment for its associates, and enhance the economic development of the communities where it operates. Together with its bottling partners, Coca-Cola ranks among the world's top 10 private employers with more than 700,000 system associates. For more information, visit Coca-Cola Journey at www.coca-colacompany.com, follow it on Twitter at twitter.com/CocaColaCo, visit its blog, Coca-Cola Unbottled, at www.coca-colablog.com or find it on LinkedIn atwww.linkedin.com/company/the-coca-cola-company."
Searching "coca-cola" at the Clinton Foundation website nets twelve pages of results.

A recent "Commitment to Action" published at the Clinton Foundation announced, "In 2013, The Coca-Cola Company (TCCC), in partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank, committed to refine and expand the Coca-Cola Coletivo platform through a $16 million investment across three countries in Latin America and 12 cities in Brazil. This will impact more than 34,000 people in Brazil alone by 2017. This commitment, which is integrated into TCCC's value chain and is co-funded by the Inter-American Development Bank's Multilateral Investment Fund, will enhance opportunities to find employment, create new business enterprises and strengthen the self-confidence of low income residents in affected communities. Coletivo was first launched in Brazil and this new collaboration will include three Coletivo models: Coletivo Retail, which focuses on young people in urban low-income communities who are seeking formal employment; Coletivo Recycling, which targets the professionalization of recycling cooperatives, generating increased income for waste collectors and formalizing the recycling value chain; and Coletivo Entrepreneurship, which provides practical training to begin and strengthen new businesses, with a focus on women."

Another recent one stated, "In 2013, The Coca-Cola Company, with a range of partners, committed to deploying 150 EKOCENTERs over a two year pilot phase to directly improve the physical, social, environmental, and economic wellbeing of more than 45,000 people. The EKOCENTER is an off the grid, modularly designed kiosk that will transform a standard shipping container into a hub of community activity by providing clean, safe drinking water, wireless communication, electricity, and other services to further enable community development within the world's population at the Base of the Pyramid. Coca-Cola will use a Golden Triangle approach to execute on this commitment, partnering with actors from the private, public, and non-governmental sectors. Deployment of the EKOCENTER is confirmed in Haiti, Mexico, the Philippines, Paraguay, Rwanda, South Africa, and the United States, with the intention to scale to over 10 more countries by the end of 2015."

A third recent "Commitment to Action" posted at the Clinton Foundation website adds, "In 2015, The Coca-Cola Company's Coca-Cola Africa Foundation committed $4.5 million over 3 years to underwrite the design and launch of the Youth Empowered for Success (YES!) program, a bold new initiative to create sustainable, safe, equitable, and productive jobs for youth across Africa. The YES! program will help young people access economic opportunities including: jobs, businesses, marketable skills, and financial services. The YES! program will be implemented in several African countries, to be determined based on assessment of need and partners."

As I reported in April, "In January, Teneo and American Ireland Funds sponsored "The Best of Ireland Gala" at the New York Athletic Club "to benefit The Children’s Medical Research Foundation and [Teneo Sports client Graeme McDowell's] GMac Foundation." Teneo CEO Declan Kelly - who was on the Board of Directors for American Ireland Funds (part of the Worldwide Ireland Funds) when they held Belfast luncheon for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2012 - was the "Dinner Chairman" for the January 12th, 2015 event which honored New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning and former Coca-Cola Refreshments President Brian Kelley - a Clinton Foundation donor who is now CEO for Clinton Global Initiative partner Green Mountain Coffee."

As I reported in March, Coca-Cola executives were on the VIP list for a Teneo-sponsored event featuring Bill Clinton, Tony Blair and George W. Bush - that the media was excluded from - held in September of 2012, when longtime Hillary Clinton aide and vice chair of her 2016 presidential campaign Huma Abedin was simultaneously working for the State Department, the Clinton Foundation, Teneo and for the former First Lady on a personal basis.

"One Thursday evening last September, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Tony Blair met in New York to conduct what was supposed to be a high-minded discourse on terrorism, geopolitics, and the global economy," Alec MacGillis reported for the New Republic in 2013. "The setting was elegant—the beaux arts ballroom of the Essex House, an iconic tower on Central Park South. The 78-person VIP guest list included Harvey Weinstein, Eli Broad, Blackstone co-founders Steve Schwarzman and Pete Peterson, Silicon Valley impresario Sean Parker, Billie Jean King, George Pataki, and New York City police chief Ray Kelly, along with CEOs and top executives from companies like Dow Chemical, Coca-Cola, BP, and Bank of America. Somehow, these onetime world leaders, corporate titans, and other notable personages converged in the center of New York without the event ever being noticed by the press."

MacGillis added, "The guests had been wrangled, persuaded, flattered, and otherwise enticed to attend by Doug Band, a tall man with genial, unmemorable features and a deferential demeanor. In fact, the gathering was taking place in his own building, underneath his expansive eighth-floor apartment, and it represented a major triumph for him."

In a May 27, 2015 article titled "A Coca-Cola exec's Hillary campaign sabbatical", Patricia Sellers reported for Fortune, "Wendy Clark, Coke’s North American marketing chief, is back from an unusual leave of absence. In January, when Coca-Cola KO 0.17% executive Wendy Clark took a three-month unpaid leave to help Hillary Clinton with her branding, colleagues predicted Clark would get sucked into politics and not return. Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent bet against them that his rising-star marketer would come back to Coke. He won 'multiple bets,' he says."

Sellers continued, "Now back full-time as Coca-Cola’s North American marketing chief, Clark declines to talk with Fortune about her secretive sabbatical, which she described to colleagues simply as her 'passion project.' But if you look at her Facebook FB -2.10% page or Twitter TWTR -0.32% feed, you’ll know that Clark is still doing all she can to help elect Hillary—off the clock that is."

On April 8, 2015 - in an article titled, "181 Clinton Foundation donors who lobbied Hillary's State Department", Jonathan Allen reported for Vox, "Likewise, Coca-Cola has given between $5 million and $10 million to the foundation. The company announced an investment of $200 million in Burma after Hillary Clinton worked to lift sanctions on that country. Even unions that blame Bill Clinton's NAFTA deal for killing American jobs, including the AFL-CIO, pop up on the crosstab of companies that donate to the foundation and lobbied Hillary's State Department. Coke, of course, was one of the biggest beneficiaries of NAFTA, which opened up Mexico, the country with the highest per-capita Coca-Cola consumption in the world."