Bryan Pagliano, the State Department IT guru who has said he will plead the fifth rather than testify about his work on Hillary Clinton’s home-brew email server, is represented by a partner at a prestigious Washington D.C. law firm with close political and financial ties to the former secretary of state.
The arrangement between Pagliano and Mark MacDougall of Akin Gump raises questions over whether the former Clinton aide merely sought to hire the best lawyer he could find for himself, or whether the Democratic presidential hopeful intervened in any way. (RELATED: Hillary Paid Her State Department IT Guy On The Side To Manage Private Server)
As Clinton has come under more and more scrutiny for her use of a personal email account and an off-the-books email server, she offered a pseudo-apology on Friday.
“At the end of the day, I am sorry that this has been confusing to people and has raised a lot of questions,” Clinton told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell. (RELATED: Hillary Apologizes For ‘Confusing’ Americans With Private Email Server)
Ties to Akin Gump
Clinton’s campaign treasurer is Jose Villarreal, a senior consultant at Akin Gump. One of the firm’s highest profile attorneys is Vernon Jordan, Jr., a longtime Clinton insider who was on Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential transition committee. The former first couple, along with President Obama and Michelle Obama, recently attended Jordan’s 80th birthday, which was held at Martha’s Vineyard.
Clinton’s financial ties to Akin Gump also run deep. Federal Election Commission (FEC) records show that five Akin Gump attorneys have bundled $129,850 for Clinton’s campaign through June 30.
FEC records also show that individual Akin Gump attorneys and advisers, including Villarreal and Jordan, contributed $120,096 to her campaign. It is unclear how much of the individual contributions are captured in the amount bundled by Akin Gump lawyers.
MacDougall himself does not appear to have donated to Clinton. But records show that he’s contributed more than $34,000 to numerous Democrats, including former U.S. Sen. John Kerry, the current secretary of state, over the past two decades.
In comparison, only one Akin Gump lawyer, former Texas U.S. Rep. Tom Loeffler, has bundled for Jeb Bush. He raised $31,500 in all for the former Florida governor.
A spokesman for Akin Gump tells The Daily Caller that the 39-year-old Pagliano was put in touch with MacDougall through a family friend who is also a partner at the firm. The spokesman did not respond when asked who connected Pagliano and the lawyer.
In a letter sent by MacDougall on Monday, Pagliano informed the House Select Committee on Benghazi that he would plead the fifth if called to testify about his work on Clinton’s email server setup. Representatives of the Clinton campaign lightly criticized the decision this week, saying they hoped Pagliano would testify.
Pagliano worked on Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign before being hired by the State Department in May 2009. He was given the title of special advisor and deputy chief information officer. He left State in Feb. 2013, the same month Clinton left office. (RELATED: Hillary’s Highly Paid IT Guy At State Department Had No National Security Experience)
During that time, Clinton used her own money to pay Pagliano to manage her private email server, which was kept at her Chappaqua, N.Y. residence.
The elaborate home-brew server arrangement calls into question a claim Clinton made Friday that she “didn’t really stop and think…what kind of e-mail system will there be?”
The Clinton campaign told reporters in New Hampshire on Saturday that she no longer pays Pagliano, who now does some consulting work for the State Department. Clinton herself said that she is not sure whether she had paid any of her aides’ legal fees.
Several of her top State Department aides have been called for interviews with the Benghazi Committee. Clinton’s former chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, is represented by Beth Wilkinson, an attorney at Paul Weiss. Huma Abedin, who worked as Clinton’s deputy chief of staff and is currently an aide on her campaign, is represented by Karen Dunn, an attorney at Boies, Schiller, and Flexner.
An email sent to an address listed for Pagliano was not returned on Saturday. The Clinton campaign also did not respond to TheDC’s request for additional information.