Hillary Clinton has received a coveted endorsement from former Iowa U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, and at a crucial time in her struggling campaign.
But Harkin and his family have received something from Clinton, too. In 2009, the then-secretary of state and her team of aides scrambled to help get Jennifer Harkin, the powerful ex-senator’s daughter, a job at the agency’s Office of War Crimes Issues.
The Daily Caller reported earlier this month that the latest batch of Clinton’s State Department emails showed that Harkin began pressing Clinton aides in Aug. 2009 to find a spot for Jennifer, a Georgetown Law School graduate.
Clinton accommodated the powerful politician, “closing the loop” on the hire in Sept. 2009. Harkin worked from 2010 to 2012 as an assistant to Stephen Rapp, the ambassador-at-large in the Office of Global Criminal Justice, which oversees the Office of War Crimes Issues.
The emails indicate that at least one Clinton aide, her chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, sought to keep the hire under the radar. They also show that the Office of War Crimes Issues had a “limited” number of job slots available.
In a Sept. 4, 2009 email, Patrick Kennedy, the under secretary for management at State, wrote to Mills that, “As you know [redacted] has been working through the ways to a identify a slot in S/WCI for [redacted].”
S/WCI is the abbreviation for the State Department’s Office of War Crimes Issues.
Mills wrote to Clinton the next day, saying, “Remind me to discuss with you how I want to play this out.”
Clinton responded the day after: “We have to discuss soon so I can close the loop on this.”
While it is unclear what Mills meant when she said she wanted to discuss how Harkin’s hiring was to “play…out,” it is notable that the State Department did not issue any press releases at the time noting the hire. The State Department also seems to have intended to redact Jennifer Harkin’s name from the Clinton emails. Her name is shielded in all but one email. (RELATED: After Lobbying Hillary, Democratic Senator’s Daughter Was Hired At State)
Harkin, who retired from the Senate this January, began pressing for the job in Aug. 2009 in emails to Clinton staffers.
On Aug. 17, Clinton’s special assistant, Jill Jiloty, wrote an email with the subject line “Tom Harkin” to Mills and Clinton aides, Huma Abedin and Heather Samuelson.
“[Redacted] has a call into the Secretary about his daughter, [redacted] and the status of her pending employment at the State Department,” the email reads, seemingly referring to the Harkins.
“[Redacted] has been in touch with Heather, but Senator [redacted] called today to raise this to the Secretary’s level,” it continues.
Samuelson responded later that day saying Jennifer Harkin was interested in working with Rapp, who formerly served as an Iowa state representative.
“The office is very small with a limited number of slots,” Samuelson wrote, adding that Jennifer Harkin “has been in contact with Stephen [Rapp] directly about the possibility of working for him, and he seems favorable about bringing her on board.”
Harkin followed up on Aug. 24 and Aug. 31 with direct calls to Clinton. The emails do not indicate whether she called him back.
Fast forward six years to Harkin’s recent op-ed in the Des Moines Register.
“I have had the privilege of knowing Hillary Clinton for a long time,” Harkin writes in his endorsement of his former Senate colleague.
“It was over a year ago that I said that though I was retiring from the Senate, I would not be retiring from the fight for social and economic justice,” Harkin continued. “That is why today I am proud to endorse my longtime friend and colleague, Hillary Clinton, in her candidacy for president of the United States.”
Harkin’s backing comes at an unusually early moment in the campaign. In 2008, when Clinton and Barack Obama were running neck-and-neck, Harkin declined to endorse either candidate until it was clear who was going to win the primaries. Clinton came in third in the Iowa caucus that year. She received 29 percent of the vote. Obama garnered 38 percent. Then-North Carolina U.S. Sen. John Edwards received 30 percent.
But Clinton desperately needs the endorsement as she struggles with the fallout from the scandal surrounding her emails and against a surging Bernie Sanders campaign.