Clinton Foundation officials decided in 2011 to move their offices from Harlem to the Wall Street financial district in lower Manhattan and share the office with financial giant Goldman Sachs, according to a WikiLeaks email made public Friday.
It moved into one of the most prestigious addresses in the financial district. The building’s owner boasts that 77 Water Street “sits at the epicenter of New York’s financial district,” and “is considered one of Wall Street’s most recognizable buildings.”
It was a far cry from 2001 when former President Bill Clinton proudly spoke in front of 2,000 people extolling his commitment to the poor people of Harlem.
The move to the financial district doubled the nonprofit’s rental expenses from $1.8 million in 2011 to $4 million in 2013, according to the Foundation’s tax filings.
Laura Graham, the Foundation’s COO at the time, emailed long-time Clinton Foundation confidant John Podesta and Foundation CEO Bruce Lindsey Nov. 15, 2011, warning that the non-profit could suffer potential “exposure risk” of unfavorable publicity in the Wall Street move.
The move from Harlem to Wall Street not only threatened to alter the Foundation’s image as a nonprofit committed to the world’s poor, it also left taxpayers on the hook for 8,600 square feet of unused space at the old address, which had at least three years remaining on the lease with the U.S. General Services Administration.
“Keep in mind that we risk exposure because it will mean GSA is paying for an empty 8600 square feet until August 2014, our first out option. We have landlords who aren’t happy we moved most of our operations out of their building and wouldn’t mind leaking an empty floor to the press,” she told them.
Graham confessed, however, that, “the advantages of course are obvious – better business continuity, management, etc.” and she noted that Chelsea, Bill and Hillary Clinton “have expressed the desire to move our Harlem personnel to Water Street now.”
Graham also reported that she “received guidance” on the move from Huma Abedin, Hillary’s deputy chief of staff at the Department of State.
Abedin received privileged status as a “special government employee” that permitted her to work simultaneously for the federal government, the Clinton Foundation and Teneo, a related consulting firm. The Senate Committee on the Judiciary is investigating Abedin’s employment status and that of Cheryl Mills, who was Hillary’s chief of staff, and worked for the Foundation.
Goldman Sachs, with an unnamed second tenant, sought to occupy 8,000 square feet of the 18th floor, with the Foundation using the remaining 15,000 square feet at the Manhattan address. Goldman Sachs paid Hillary $675,000 for three speeches after she left the State Department.
Clinton refused to disclose any of the transcripts of those speeches, but WikiLeaks released a portion of the transcripts earlier this week. Among other things, she said, “there is such a bias against people who have led successful and/or complicated lives.”
Clinton appeared sympathetic to the banking industry, telling the Goldman Sachs employees that it was an “oversimplification” to blame the global financial crisis of 2008 on the U.S. banking system.
She also said that she dreamed of “open trade and open borders” throughout the Western Hemisphere.
Graham, under intense pressure from “office crap” at the Foundation, later attempted to commit suicide.
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