Republican Iowa Sen. [crscore]Chuck Grassley[/crscore], the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is questioning whether Hillary Clinton paid legal and public relations expenses for a former State Department aide and a tech company that worked on her private email system.
“As you are aware, such arrangements can pose conflict-of-interest issues,” Grassley wrote in a letter he sent on Tuesday to attorneys representing Clinton and several of her State Department aides, including Bryan Pagliano, the IT staffer who managed Clinton’s email system while she was secretary of state.
Grassley appears concerned that Clinton’s former aides and the tech companies she has hired to manage her mysterious email system would continue to work on her behalf rather than provide information on the email arrangement to investigators.
“It is important for the Committee to know whether Secretary Clinton and her attorneys are providing financial support, legal support, or other coordination to those associates of hers who are involved in congressional committee and federal law enforcement inquiries relating to her email server,” Grassley wrote.
He pointed specifically to a Sept. 16 invoice allegedly sent from Platte River Networks, the Denver-based firm that began managing Clinton’s server in June 2013, to Clinton’s accountant, Marcum, LLP.
Platte River Networks had housed Clinton’s server at a New Jersey data center but turned it over to the FBI in August after the Intelligence Community’s inspector general found that two “top secret” emails had been maintained on the device.
The invoice, which was published last month by the website Complete Colorado, includes line items expensing legal work and public relations activities.
Under two entries for “Legal activity re: Hillary Clinton,” Platte River Networks charged Marcum, LLP $2,720 and $25,733 for the periods July 24 and July 31 and Aug. 3 to Aug. 31, respectively. The invoice also includes a line item for $19,283 for “PR for Clinton email media inquiries.”
The PR expenses were earmarked for a company called dovetail solutions, another Denver-based company that Platte River Networks hired to manage its public relations as the Clinton email probe heated up this summer.
Andy Boian, the founder of dovetail solutions, did not return The Daily Caller’s request for comment about the invoice.
“The invoice raises questions as to whether Secretary Clinton has similar arrangements with other people or entities associated with her email server,” Grassley wrote in the letter.
While Platte River Networks has claimed it is cooperating with the FBI’s investigation, Politico reported earlier this month that the company has recently declined interview requests from FBI investigators and from the Senate Homeland Security Committee, which is also investigating Clinton’s server.
As Grassley noted in his letter, the Clinton campaign told Politico that “Clinton is not paying” outside firms for their legal and PR expenses related to the email probe. Politico also reported that the Clinton camp said that it had not received an invoice from Platte River Networks.
But as Grassley pointed out, the Clinton team’s statement that it is “not paying” Platte River Networks was present tense. That leaves open the possibility that Clinton or Marcum, LLP paid for outside legal and PR services in the past. Grassley also noted that while the Clinton campaign denied receiving an invoice, it did not comment on whether her accountant, Marcum, LLP, had.
It would not be a surprise if Clinton and her team are issuing vague statements to conceal a financial arrangement with Platte River Networks. Clinton has issued several lawyerly statements about her email account. One example is her initial claim that she did not send or receive classified information on the email account. But Clinton has since revised that statement, saying now that any classified information contained on the server was not “marked” classified when it was originated.
Grassley is also questioning whether Clinton has any financial arrangements with Pagliano, who pleaded the fifth during a brief interview in September with the House Select Committee on Benghazi.
Grassley and the Senate Homeland Security Committee have discussed whether to grant Pagliano immunity in order to testify about his work on Clinton’s email system.
“Given that the Committee has broached the idea of immunity with Mr. Pagliano, his involvement in a third-party fee arrangement or joint defense agreement with any of the parties about whom he may be asked to testify would raise substantial concerns,” Grassley wrote.
Pagliano worked as a staffer on Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, and joined the State Department in May 2009, where he reportedly managed Clinton’s server. Clinton has said that Pagliano was not paid by the State Department for his work on the hardware and that she paid him from her personal funds.
While Grassley did not name any specific conflicts of interest regarding Pagliano, he is being represented by Mark MacDougall, an attorney for Akin Gump, a Washington D.C. law firm that is one of Clinton’s biggest campaign donors. (RELATED: Law Firm Representing Hillary’s IT Guy Has Donated Heavily To Her Campaign)
As TheDC reported in September, five Akin Gump attorneys had bundled nearly $130,000 in campaign contributions for Clinton through June 30.
Clinton’s campaign treasurer, Jose Villareal, is also a senior consultant at Akin Gump. And one of the firm’s senior attorneys is Vernon Jordan, Jr., a longtime Clinton insider.
Akin Gump denied that the firm’s ties to Clinton had anything to do with Pagliano hiring MacDougall. A spokesperson said that Pagliano was put in touch with the lawyer through a family friend who works at the firm.