According to a leaked 2011 memo by WikiLeaks in October 2016, garnered from Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager John Podesta’s emails, hacked by Russian agents, it appears that former President Bill Clinton’s long time assistant, Doug Band who wrote the memo was signing up important peoples to donate monies both to the Clinton foundation while arranging speaking gigs for former President Bill Clinton.
It is my opinion that David Band was mostly serving himself. He was using the high powered connections that he came in contact with to benefit his own public relations firm which he started in 2010, Teneo. In the 2011 memo he is justifying his actions brought into question by Chelsea Clinton when she became a board member. In his writings to Mr. Podesta, he refers to Chelsea as a brat who should have more respect for him. In short, once Chelsea spilled the beans, Mr. Band was soon on the outs with the Clinton family.
The context of the WikiLeaks memo written in 2011 by David Band to John Podesta was covered in the news in 2013. Today’s press seem not to be aware of this.
The rest of the story… was covered by the New Republic on 9/22/2013, 2 years before the current leaked email became public. The author Alec MacGilles provides context for this complicated narrative by explaining, “How Doug Band drove a wedge through a political dynasty.” (Here is the link for the complete report:How Doug Band drove a wedge through the Clinton dynasty.)
At the age of 27, Band had entered Clinton’s orbit as that lowliest of Washington archetypes: the body man. He was the all-purpose aide who carried the bags (and other as- sundry duties.) And after the inglorious end of Clinton’s presidency, Band had stayed on. It was he who had engineered Clinton’s transformation into a philanthropist-king, and over the years, the pair had formed a bond that was more like father and son than boss and factotum. “The most important thing about Doug is that he sort of took control of President Clinton’s career at a moment when he was dropping from about sixty percent (favorability) to thirty-nine percent,” says Paul Begala, the former Clinton adviser. “You look up today and Bill is in a league inhabited only by himself and Nelson Mandela and the Pope. He’s one of the most beloved people on the planet. And Doug’s been central to that.”
“Band himself did not respond to an extensive list of questions for this article, but over the course of nine months, I spoke with more than three dozen people who have worked with him over the arc of his career. Inside the realm known as Clintonland, he is the subject of considerable angst. There are those who worry about the overlap between his work for the Clinton Global Initiative— which he conceived (2005) and helped run for six years—and his energetic efforts to expand (His own company) Teneo’s client base. And there are those who worry about how some of the messier aspects of the charity’s operations could create trouble for Hillary Clinton. But the real cause for these anxieties runs deeper. At its heart, the unease with Band reflects an unease with the phenomenon of post-presidential Clintonism itself.”
“Bill Clinton now leads a sprawling philanthropic empire like no other. The good it achieves is undeniable. It has formed partnerships with multinationals and wealthy individuals to distribute billions of dollars all over the globe. Its many innovative projects include efforts to lower the costs of medicines in developing nations and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions in major cities. And yet it’s hard to shake the sense that it’s not all about saving the world. There’s an undertow of transactionalism in the glittering annual dinners, the fixation on celebrity, and a certain contingent of donors whose charitable contributions and business interests occupy an uncomfortable proximity. More than anyone else except Clinton himself, (Doug) Band is responsible for creating this culture.”
“Doug Band was not driven to Washington by ideological passion or to advance a particular cause. By all accounts, it was always important to him to be wherever the power players were.”
After graduating from University of Florida, Doug Band returned to Washington in 1995 at the age of 22 to intern (2nd internship in Washington DC.) in the Clinton White House.
“It wasn’t long before Band knew everyone and everyone knew Band. After his internship, Band was hired by the counsel’s office as a staffer vetting judicial nominees, while earning a master’s in liberal arts and a law degree from Georgetown. His colleagues were perplexed when Band took a job on the president’s advance team, typically a role for someone several years younger.”
“For Band, however, being in the thick of the action was more important than shaping it. The legal job was in the Old Executive Office Building; the advance job was in the White House. “He just wanted to be closer to the president, to really be inside the West Wing and see in a closer level of visibility how things worked,” says the former supervisor. By 2000, Band had moved up from the advance team to become Clinton’s body man.”
“Band’s pursuit of this path reflected a shrewd insight into the Clinton White House. But being the butt boy for Bill Clinton held more potential than it would for almost any other politician. Since Clinton was pathologically incapable of showing up on time, he needed constant management. This required, for one thing, a mastery of the politics and the issues of the moment, and Band immersed himself in the president’s briefing book accordingly.”
“As his second term wound down, Clinton fell into a gloomy state. He was leaving the White House in disgrace over his last-minute pardons and owed millions of dollars in legal bills. Once again, Band surprised his colleagues by declining a job at Goldman Sachs and opting to remain as Clinton’s assistant. “It was a loyalty play.” Michael Feldman, a former adviser to Vice President Gore, detected the instincts of an entrepreneur: “The connections you cultivate if you do that job—the potential is unlimited.”
In July 2001, Clinton opened an office in Harlem. In the early months, “the phones were not “ringing as much,” says Doug Sosnik, a senior adviser to Clinton in his second term. A lot of the time, it was just Band and Bill, shuttling between Harlem and Clinton’s home in Chappaqua. The former president had established the William J. Clinton Foundation, but lacked any real plan for how he would spend the years ahead. It was a tough adjustment for Clinton, but “a pretty heady time for Doug,” says his former colleague from the counsel’s office.” (Doug Band helped to make the foundation a success.)
“When Band launched (his own company) Teneo, he deployed his Clinton connections on a grander scale. In 2010, he, Declan Kelly, and a third partner registered the first of several entities in Delaware that would become Teneo. Band and Kelly had met during the 2008 campaign when Kelly was fund-raising for Hillary. Kelly had previously owned a p.r. firm, and the plan was for Band to offer the kind of strategic savvy he’d provided to Clinton. “He’s particularly useful to the CEOs,” says Podesta.”
Teneo has its headquarters on the forty-fifth floor of the former Citigroup Center tower in Midtown and employs more than 200 people in 13 cities, including Dubai, Hong Kong, and São Paolo. It describes its raison d’être as “integrated counsel for a borderless world,” offering investment banking, restructuring advice, and “business intelligence” on dealing with “global disruptors.” According to its website, Teneo has “advised on more than $525 billion of M&A transactions, served presidents and political leaders all over the globe, and counseled the leaders of many of the largest and most complex corporations in the world.”
“From the beginning, Teneo resembled an outpost of Clintonland more than an independent entity. Clinton and Blair came on as paid advisers. One of the firm’s managing directors is the former CEO of the horse-racing and gambling empire belonging to the family of Belinda Stronach, a Canadian former politician whose friendship with Clinton has been the subject of considerable speculation. Nancy Hernreich Bowen, director of Oval Office operations under Clinton, works in the Hong Kong office.”
“A number of key Teneo clients were closely involved with Clinton’s charitable work. One month before the Rockefeller Foundation presented Clinton with an award for philanthropy, it gave Teneo a $3.4 million contract to propose “tangible solutions to global problems.” Another early client was Coca-Cola, which helped build the distribution system for medicine in Tanzania, Mozambique, and Ghana, for a CGI project. Band has served on Coca-Cola’s international advisory board, and a former Coke CEO, Donald Keough, chairs the boutique investment bank Allen & Co., which holds a financial interest in Teneo. Other Teneo clients include the big hospital chain Tenet (which is a lead partner in the new Clinton Health Matters Initiative) and UBS Americas (which launched a Small Business Advisory Program with the foundation).”
“What Doug has ended up doing, is that he has met some of the most influential people in the world through President Clinton and has ended up building a business dealing with and helping those people,” says the Clinton friend.”
“Of course, it was only natural that Band would tap his existing network. What is striking is the extent to which Teneo’s business model depends on his relationship with Clinton. Band’s former White House colleague says Teneo is essentially a p.r. firm that is able to charge above-market rates because it persuades executives that Band and the ties he brings are an essential service. The longtime Clinton associate says that Band’s pitch to clients was that he was “able to fly around (with Clinton) and decide who flies around with him.”
“A few months into Teneo’s existence, it began to present difficulties for the Clintons. In late 2011, it emerged that the company had been paid $125,000 per month in consulting fees by MF Global, the brokerage firm that lost $600 million of its investors’ money. There were reports that Hillary Clinton was upset about potential conflicts between Teneo’s overseas clients and her work as secretary of state. In February 2012, Bill Clinton’s office announced that he would no longer take payment from the firm. The page listing an “advisory board” headed by Clinton and Blair vanished from its website.”
“Bill Clinton was having deeper misgivings, say several people close to the situation. It was becoming difficult to ignore how aggressively Band was working his Clinton connections on Teneo’s behalf. Some of its biggest clients, such as Dow Chemical, were the same companies whose CEOs Band had done special favors for at CGI: getting them on stage with Clinton, relaxing the background checks for credentials, or providing slots in the photo line. In Teneo’s first year, anyone on the payroll or client list got full access to CGI.” At CGI’s September 2011 summit in New York, two suites were reserved upstairs from the conference at the New York Sheraton for meetings with top donors and heads of state. But when the Chinese ambassador was brought upstairs for a meeting, CGI officials found both suites occupied —one by Band, one by Kelly, who were pitching potential clients. After that, Teneo lost its special access.”
A month later, Clinton got a firsthand taste of Teneo’s promotional style. He had been invited to the Global Irish Economic Forum in Dublin by Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny. Declan Kelly was also on the speaking schedule, and, according to one person with close knowledge of the event, Kelly’s remarks suggested that it was Teneo that had brought Clinton to Ireland. Clinton went ashen, according to this person, and later exploded in anger, railing that Kelly had embarrassed him in front of the prime minister.
“At around the same time, Clinton was receiving reports of just how boldly Band had been offering his consulting services to major donors to CGI or the foundation, according to two people close to the foundation. According to these people, Band’s pitch left the donors with the distinct impression that Clinton had encouraged the donors to avail themselves of Band’s services. However, one person close to the foundation says that Band’s consulting for donors came to the fore in a 2011 audit of the foundation’s finances by a New York law firm. The second person close to the foundation says that one major donor complained directly to Clinton that he had been writing large checks to Band and was upset that his access to Clinton had decreased. “The president was furious.”
As Band’s relationship with Clinton deteriorated, he sought public ways to demonstrate that nothing had changed. In September 2011, the White House made overtures to secure Clinton’s participation in Obama’s reelection campaign. The first step, it was deemed, would be a round of golf. The initial thinking in the White House was to include Joe Biden, an old Clinton chum.
“Band was involved in the planning, and he sensed an opportunity to raise his profile. According to people aware of the discussions, he started talking up a different arrangement: a game with the two presidents, Bill Daley (Obama’s then–chief of staff and a former Clinton Cabinet member) and himself. The proposal had a certain symmetry—the current president, the former president, and their top aides. Daley expressed interest, and the plan acquired its own momentum. The White House wasn’t happy, but it knew that Band still controlled access to Clinton. The upshot was that the vice president was bounced. The round was held, to much media fanfare, on a muggy Saturday on the links at Andrews Air Force Base.”
“Clinton was thrilled to find that the Obama team wanted to deploy him to full advantage. Throughout the campaign, however, Band was unwilling to let bygones be bygones. He demanded that the Obama team help pay off Hillary’s 2008 campaign debt. Band’s relations with Obama strategist David Plouffe were “disastrous,” says one high-ranking Democratic source. “Doug made everything harder than it needed to be,” says the source. “Dealing with the Clinton world always had something to do with what Doug wanted.”
“Eventually, the source says, a couple of senior campaign officials told Clinton about the problem. Eventually, his gatekeeper role was passed to other Clinton aides. Meanwhile, Band’s reputation inside the Obama campaign became outright toxic.”
“By the election’s end, Band’s standing in Clintonland had visibly declined. In January, he went off the payroll of Clinton’s personal office. The foundation stopped paying him in 2011, but he remained the board. Tensions simmered between Band and Chelsea Clinton, who has assumed a more active role in the Clinton Foundation. Chelsea, who once felt only fondness for Band, came to worry that the overlap between the foundation and Band’s business interests could backfire on the Clintons.”
“Meanwhile, Hillary’s adoption of the foundation as a temporary perch this year has left even less space for Doug Band. “Hillary and Chelsea’s view was, Look, if you’re going to work for the foundation you should work for the foundation and nothing else.”
“These days, Clinton and Band now speak only every couple of months when they run into each other at events, such as a fund-raiser. “It’s gone from being a surrogate son relationship to an awkward thickness when they’re together,” says one person who has witnessed this dynamic firsthand. “It’s like when your wife cheats on you, and after the divorce, you have to see them at the friend’s wedding.This person says that Clinton is pained by his aide ’s efforts to capitalize on their relationship.”
NOTE: This blog was updated on 10/28/16.