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Kerry’s Daughter Recruited Former Peace Corps Execs Who Helped Her Get Fed Contracts

Reuters/John Schults

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Ethan Barton Managing Editor

A senior U.S. Peace Corps official helped steer government contracts to a nonprofit founded and managed by Secretary of State John Kerry’s daughter, and then retired after getting caught emailing lewd comments to a co-worker he improperly hired, The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group discovered.

Dr. Vanessa Kerry’s Seed Global Health hired Warren “Buck” Buckingham as director of operations, a man who was formerly Director of the Peace Corps Office of Global Health and HIV. Buckingham is one of three high-ranking former Peace Corps officials who joined Kerry’s nonprofit after helping it secure federal contracts.

The Department of State funneled $9 million through the Peace Corps to Kerry’s charity in the years since 2012, TheDCNF previously reported. The money was awarded through contracts for the Global Health Service Partnership (GHSP) – a program Kerry created in conjunction with officials from both agencies.

The other officials besides Buckingham who joined Kerry’s nonprofit include former Peace Corps Director Aaron Williams and former Associate Director Esther Benjamin. Williams and Benjamin are on Seed’s board of trustees, and Buckingham was director of operations for approximately 10 months. The three played key roles forming GHSP and ensuring that Seed received State Department money through Peace Corps contracting.

Buckingham was involved in high-level meetings with Kerry, State Department and Peace Corps officials and was listed as the Peace Corps point of contact on the first contract in September, 2012. He also authorized Peace Corps-funded trips for Kerry and her staff to travel domestically and internationally while they formed GHSP.

Buckingham retired from the Peace Corps in December, 2012, after the Inspector General (IG) investigated claims that he sexually harassed an employee he improperly hired. The subsequent report did not include his name, but TheDCNF confirmed that the manager in question was Buckingham.

The IG “determined that the manager’s selection of the employee was not based on merit principles and failed to adequately consider qualified veterans who had applied for the position.”

Investigators also “uncovered substantial evidence that the manager exchanged numerous lewd email messages, accepted improper gifts and made inappropriate comments of a sexual nature to the selected employee,” the 2013 IG report said. “The manager left government service.”

Seed hired Buckingham around September, 2015 – the same month the Peace Corps gave the charity a State Department-funded $6.4 million contract extension – but he left the charity by June, 2016, according to his LinkedIn page.

It’s unclear why he left Seed, and it’s unknown how much he was paid. Neither Seed nor Buckingham responded to TheDCNF’s requests for comment.

Williams, who was Buckingham’s boss at the Peace Corps, was sent at least one memo describing the scheme that would enable Seed to receive State Department money. He later signed agreements accepting funds from the State Department for GHSP.

Williams left the Peace Corps in August, 2012, one month before the agency gave Seed its first contract. He was, however, among those who announced the partnership the previous March. He became a Seed trustee sometime before September, 2013, according to the charity’s 990 tax forms.

Benjamin also helped Kerry create GHSP. She, like Buckingham, authorized the Peace Corps to fund international and domestic trips for Kerry’s staff in order to establish the program.

Benjamin left the Peace Corps in 2013 and joined Seed sometime between September, 2015, and March 2016.

Seed’s trustees are not paid, according to the group’s 990 tax forms. A spokesman for the Peace Corps did not respond to TheDCNF’s requests for comment.

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