While Hillary Clinton may have had some entertaining problems when using her Blackberry (or was that iPad) as US Secretary of State, one thing she excelled at was nepotism.
According to the latest set of emails released by the State Department, and first reported by the Daily Caller, Hillary intervened in a request forwarded by her son-in-law, Marc Mezvisnky, on behalf of a deep-sea mining firm, Neptune Minerals, to meet with her or other State Department officials.
One of the firm's investors, Harry Siklas who was Mezvinsky's coworker at Goldman (which donated between $1 and $5 million to the Clinton Foundation) had asked Mezvinsky, who married Chelsea Clinton in 2010 and who currently runs his own hedge fund (in which Goldman CEO Blankfein is also an investor) for help setting up such contacts, an email from May 25, 2012 shows.
Siklas told Mezvinsky that Neptune Minerals (a company founded by one of Siklas' close friends) was poised for great things. He also touted an investment that Goldman Sachs - had made in the company, which had underwater tenements in the South Pacific.
Siklas said that he and Adam hoped to meet with State Department officials, including Clinton, to discuss deep sea mining “and the current legal issues and regulations” surrounding it.
"I introduced them to GS and the bankers took them on as a client," Siklas wrote.
"There is a favor I need to ask, and hopefully it will not put you out, as I’m not one to ask for favors typically," Siklas wrote to Mezvinsky. "I need a contact in Hillary’s office."
"Siklas said that he and Adam hoped to meet with State Department officials, including Clinton, to discuss deep sea mining “and the current legal issues and regulations” surrounding it.
As AP adds, the lobbying effort on behalf of Neptune Minerals came while Hillary Clinton — now the leading Democratic presidential candidate — was advocating for an Obama administration push for Senate approval of a sweeping Law of the Sea Treaty. The pact would have aided U.S. mining companies scouring for minerals in international waters, but the Republican-dominated Senate blocked it.
Clinton then ordered a senior State Department official, Thomas Nides and now a vice chairman at Morgan Stanley, to look into the request in August 2012.
"Could you have someone follow up on this request, which was forwarded to me?" Clinton asked Nides.
Nides replied: "I'll get on it."
The emails do not show whether Clinton or other State Department officials met with Harry Siklas or with executives from the Florida-based firm. Clinton's official calendars, recently obtained by The Associated Press, also do not show any meetings between Clinton and Neptune representatives.
Clinton's campaign declined through a spokesman to discuss the issue, despite AP asking detailed questions about the matter since Nov. 30. The AP attempted to reach Siklas and a Neptune executive, Josh Adam, by phone, email and in-person visits to their homes last week but received no replies.
As noted above, Siklas had said in his email that his then-employer, Goldman Sachs, was representing Neptune.
Unperturbed by the State Department's stonewalling, AP then dug deeper into its quest to see just how extensive the nepotism ran:
A spokesman for Eaglevale said Mezvinsky would not comment on his role. Emails to a spokeswoman for Chelsea Clinton went unreturned. Morgan Stanley officials did not respond to an AP request to interview Nides. The AP also left three phone messages with Neptune Minerals' office in St. Petersburg, Florida, and also left several phone and email messages with Hans Smit, the firm's current president, also with no reply.
Federal ethics guidelines warn government employees to "not give preferential treatment to any private organization or individual," but there are no specific provisions prohibiting officials from considering requests prompted by relatives.
As the AP then notes, "Clinton's willingness to intercede as a result of her son-in-law's involvement is the latest example of how the Clinton family's interests cut across intersecting spheres of influence in American politics, commerce and charity."
A lawyer for an environmental group opposing deep-sea mining said Clinton's action was "cause for concern that the State Department might take any action that could encourage such activity." Emily Jeffers, an attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity, a group opposing deep-sea mining, filed suit against Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration last May, accusing the agencies of failing to conduct comprehensive environmental tests before licensing Lockheed Martin Corp. to mine for minerals in U.S. territorial waters in the Pacific Ocean.
Jeffers said her organization supports the Law of the Sea Treaty that Clinton championed during her tenure at the State Department. She said the proposal would give the U.S. and other countries roles in establishing standards to explore for oil, gas and minerals. Jeffers said her group worries that the U.S. and other commercial nations will encourage deep-sea mining once the treaty is adopted.
One provision of the treaty, backed by corporate interests, would allow nations, including the U.S., to sponsor mining companies seeking to scour deep seas for minerals. Clinton told senators in May 2012 that American mining firms would only be able to compete freely against foreign rivals under standards set by the treaty.
Seabed mining is "very expensive, and before any company will explore a mine site, it will naturally insist on having a secure title to the site and the minerals it will recover," she said.
Clinton's public push for a U.S. role in securing deep sea mining rights quickly hit home at Neptune Mining. Three days after her Senate appearance, Siklas, who described himself as a "passive investor" in Neptune, emailed Mezvinsky.
As Siklas explained to Clinton's son in law, Neptune was pursuing sea-floor massive sulfide (SMS) mining in the South Pacific and had just bought out two other mining firms. Siklas said that he and Adam needed "a contact in Hillary's office: someone my friend Josh (and I perhaps) can reach out via email or phone to discuss SMS mining and the current legal issues and regulations." Siklas, then registered as a stockbroker at Goldman Sachs in New York, had contributed $2,000 to Hillary Clinton's 2008 unsuccessful presidential bid.
Siklas said the State Department would be interested in the subject following Clinton's Senate testimony. He said he and Adam "would feel very fortunate to have someone's ear on this topical issue, with the hope that at some point we get in front of the secretary herself."
And since the emails do not show how Clinton became directly aware of Siklas' email to Mezvinsky or why it took three months for her to act after Mezvinsky became involved, it also raises questions how many emails in the chain had been illegally deleted, and what may be contained in them. As the Daily Caller observes:
... it is unclear why there is no record of Clinton being forwarded the email that Siklas sent to Mezvinsky. Clinton wrote in her email to Nides that she was forwarded the email from Siklas to her son-in-law. If Clinton had turned over all work-related emails that she has sent or received — as she has repeatedly claimed — it would be expected that she had an email sent directly to her inbox with Siklas’s email attached.
The answer is simple: Clinton did not in fact produce all emails as had been demanded. But while the emails do not show a reply from Mezvinsky, Hillary Clinton eventually obtained a copy and sent it to Nides that August, ordering a follow-up.
Most importantly, as DC concludes, the email shows that people close to Clinton had the inside track in pushing her their pet projects — a pattern that has been on display with nearly every monthly release of Clinton emails.
For those who are shocked, feel free to read what little evidence Clinton did provide of just that, shown below.