Emails Show Hillary Helped Friend Navigate Federal Contracts
One of Hillary Clinton’s most frequent favor-seekers when she was secretary of state was former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, a longtime Clinton friend, an endorser of Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, and an Africa expert with deep business ties on the continent.
Wilson’s requests for help — on behalf of an American engineering contractor he consulted for called Symbion Power — is a recurring theme in each monthly Clinton email dump.
The latest two batches of records are no different.
They show that Wilson, who is perhaps most famous as the husband of ex-CIA operative Valerie Plame, emailed Clinton on Dec. 22, 2009 seeking help for Symbion, which was pursuing a U.S. Agency of International Development (USAID) contract for work in Afghanistan.
Wilson said he was frustrated that USAID was “mothballing projects and refusing to consider others because of the perceived dangers” in Afghanistan. “If AID won’t do the job, money should be transferred to the military,” he urged.
And in an Aug. 13, 2010 email released on Dec. 31, Wilson asked for help in gaining access to the Green Zone in Baghdad, Iraq in order to discuss a contract with U.S. military contractors that was being held up.
“The delays in settling these claims are unwarranted and have had a negative impact on Symbion and obliged us to be out of pocket a considerable sum of money through no fault of our own,” Wilson wrote.
In the case of the Afghanistan project, Clinton vouched for Wilson and Symbion as she forwarded the request to Jack Lew, who served then as deputy secretary of state for management and resources. Wilson’s request may also have been discussed with President Obama, as one email indicates.
“Please check out what Joe is saying here,” Clinton wrote in one Dec. 2009 email to Lew, who is now secretary of the Treasury Department, on his Gmail account. “He is now working for a company that has a good track record building in Iraq and wants to do so in Afghanistan.”
Clinton’s chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, was also brought into the loop. In an email to Clinton, Lew and foreign policy adviser Jake Sullivan, she wrote that she wanted to find out more information about the contracts before reaching out to Wilson.
Lew forwarded the request to his chief of staff, Piper Cambell, and asked to check into Wilson’s request. Campbell emailed back, though the message is completely redacted.
Mills forwarded that chain to Clinton, who responded, asking “can you talk?”
“Call me b/f you call potus,” Mills wrote back, referring to President Obama. It is unclear if Clinton discussed Wilson’s request with Obama.
Wilson passed his request the next year for help getting into Iraq’s Green Zone to Clinton through their mutual friend, Sidney Blumenthal — who worked as an aide in the Bill Clinton White House and supplied Hillary Clinton with intelligence reports on a variety of issues.
“I’ve passed on Joe’s requests for help in Iraq. Will know more next week,” Clinton responded in an email back to Blumenthal.
Wilson was paid handsomely by Symbion — $20,000 per month — to drum up business for the company. As an expert on Africa — Wilson had served as ambassador to Gabon and São Tomé and Príncipe and as senior director of African Affairs in the Bill Clinton White House.
When he signed on at Symbion, he was also serving as vice president to Jarch Capital Management, a New York-based investment firm with investments in the oil fields of southern Sudan.
In the Dec. 22, 2009 email that Wilson forwarded to Clinton, the career diplomat passed along a letter from Symbion’s CEO, Paul Hinks, laying out the company’s strategy. In the memo, Hinks lamented the languishing project and asked Wilson to “see if he can get any traction in DC.”
“Through your good contacts with senior people in the government do you think it is possible to draw attention to this issue,” Hinks wrote. “They must not withdraw and they should rather adopt an aggressive approach to getting this work done. They must not take the easy route and divert money elsewhere.”
Wilson appears to have given it his all, on the Afghanistan pitch as well as other projects. Besides lobbying Clinton for help with the USAID contract in Afghanistan and the access to Baghdad’s Green Zone, Wilson emailed Clinton a general pitch of the company through Blumenthal in Nov. 2009. He passed along a four-minute video touting the company.
The pair also met on Dec. 11, 2009 at Clinton’s State Department office, 11 days before Wilson emailed his USAID pitch. (RELATED: Hillary Met Privately With Crony Lobbying For Africa Business)
Symbion was not awarded a USAID contract in 2009 or 2010, but it did win a lucrative business deal through the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), a quasi-federal agency chaired by the secretary of state. MCC awarded a $47 million grant to the company to build a power plant in Tanzania. Clinton visited that facility in 2011. (RELATED: After An Email To Hillary, Company Directed By Ambassador Joe Wilson Was Awarded Lucrative Africa Contract)
That same year, Wilson contacted Clinton to intervene in a business dispute with General Electric over business equipment. Wilson asked Clinton to mention the dispute in a phone call with GE’s CEO, Jeffrey Immelt. She forwarded the request to her aides to seek additional information, and it is unclear if Clinton discussed Symbion with Immelt. (RELATED: Hillary Clinton Intervened In Business Dispute After An Email From Ambassador Joseph Wilson)
Other government business came Symbion’s way after Wilson’s outreach. In 2013, after Clinton left office, President Obama announced the Power Africa initiative, which aims to provide electricity to qualifying African countries. Symbion received a $1.8 billion commitment to carry out the work, according to a White House fact sheet.
The relationship between Wilson and Symbion has gone south in recent years. As The Daily Caller has reported extensively, Wilson sued the company in September for $280,000 he says the company owes him in unpaid consultation fees.
Symbion has responded in court, claiming that Wilson’s emails to Clinton — which were first released in the summer –were an “embarrassment” and that he didn’t help the company obtain new business.
Wilson claims the opposite.
In one court filing, he stated that he was “directly and deeply involved on behalf of Symbion in pursuing and developing the business opportunities for Symbion, including the Millennium Challenge Fund.” (RELATED: Clinton Crony Claims He Was Deeply Involved In Obtaining Contract From Agency Controlled By Hillary)
The case is currently pending.
Wilson declined to comment for this article and referred TheDC to Symbion and Hinks. The company did not respond to a request for comment. But in the past, it has asserted that Wilson’s contact with Clinton did not help the company. The company has not said whether it was aware of Wilson specifically reaching out to Clinton while he was at Symbion.