In a mind-boggling example of how the government blows—or perhaps steals—our tax dollars, billions vanished from the U.S. State Department mostly while Hillary Clinton ran it, according to a new alert issued by the agency’s inspector general.
Could the former Secretary of State be using the cash to fund an upcoming presidential campaign? In all, $6 billion are missing and it’s highly unlikely any of the money will ever be recovered. The cash was supposed to be used to pay contractors but it just disappeared and documents that could help track the dough cannot be located. How convenient! The paper trail, which federal law says must be maintained in the case of government contracts, has been destroyed or was never created to begin with.
How could this possibly happen? Like a lot of government agencies, outside contracts are a free-for-all at the State Department with virtually no oversight. Hundreds of millions of dollars are doled out annually for a variety of services and no one bothers to follow up on the deals. This “exposes the department to significant financial risk,” according to the State Department Inspector General, which issued a special management alert this month outlining the lost $6 billion. The watchdog further writes that “it creates conditions conducive to fraud, as corrupt individuals may attempt to conceal evidence of illicit behavior by omitting key documents from the contract file.”
Among the examples listed in the memo is a recent investigation of the closeout process for contracts involving the U.S. mission in Iraq. Investigators could not locate 33 of the 115 contract files totaling approximately $2.1 billion. Even of the files they found, more than half contained insufficient documents required by federal law. In one billion-dollar deal involving the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement in Afghanistan, the actual contract was determined to be “incomplete.”
In one alarming case a contract file conveniently omitted that a $52 million deal was awarded to a company owned by the spouse of another State Department contractor employee performing as a specialist. In other cited cases a contracting officer actually falsified government technical review information in a $100 million deal and a contracting officer’s representative allowed nearly $800,000 to be paid on a deal with no official documents to support the payment. It’s the free-flow of public funds under extremely suspicious circumstances.
At the very least the State Department is violating its own policy, according to the inspector general, which divulges that it’s found “repeated examples of poor contract file administration over the years.” The watchdog confirms that “it is the Department’s policy that all contracts, regardless of dollar value, be properly documented so as to provide complete record of: pre-solicitation activities; the solicitation, evaluation, and award process; and [sic] the administration of the contract through closeout.”
This unbelievable report documenting the mysterious disappearance of $6 billion from the coffers of a major government agency brings to mind a similar and equally enraging story reported by Judicial Watch a few years ago. The Pentagon somehow lost $6.6 billion sent to Iraq for post-invasion “reconstruction.”
The money was bundled in chunks of $100 bills and transported in turboprop military cargo planes known as C-130 Hercules. About $2.4 billion fit in each aircraft and 21 flights made trips, transporting a total of $12 billion in American currency to Iraq. More than half the money has never been recovered, according to the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.
A year later nearly half a billion dollars in oil destined for the Afghan National Army vanished. We will never know what happened because the Pentagon improperly shredded records that could have solved the mystery, according to a federal audit that exposed the fraud. The oil was part of a $1 billion fuel program largely funded by the U.S. government, which of course, means it was mostly Americans who saw their tax dollars blown in yet another government corruption scheme.
Waste and fraud are par for the course in most bloated government agencies and JW has exposed a number of alarming examples over the years, both domestically and internationally. They involve practically all agencies, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) scandal-plagued food-stamp program, Medicare and Medicaid, the famously corrupt U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and President Obama’s fraud-infested $787 billion stimulus boondoggle, to name a few.
Hillary Clinton confidant Huma Abedin is making headlines lately for standing by her disgraced husband through a sexting scandal, but she’s also embroiled in her own controversy and months ago Judicial Watch launched an independent investigation with the State Department.
It involves Abedin raking in lucrative “consulting fees” while also working as a top Clinton aide at the State Department. The deadline for the State Department to provide the records under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) has expired and Judicial Watch is preparing lawsuit since it’s unlikely the agency will provide the files without litigation. In correspondence dated June 5, 2013 the State Department acknowledged receiving JW’s FOIA request and the agency claims it’s processing it and has assigned it a case control number.
But, like most government agencies, the State Department is laying the groundwork to avoid providing the information. “Unusual circumstances (including the number and location of Department components involved in responding to your request, the volume of requested records, etc.) may arise that would require additional time to process your request,” the agency writes in its letter to JW.
Yesterday a U.S. Senator, who requested information about Abedin’s questionable arrangement weeks after JW filed its FOIA, revealed that the State Department has also blown him off. “So far, the State Department and Ms. Abedin haven’t provided a single document that I requested,” according to Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, who, like JW wants answers about the “Special Government Employee” status that allowed Abedin to make money as a private consultant while Uncle Sam paid her salary. “Putting up a stone wall raises a lot more questions about how the program is being used than it answers,” Grassley said.
The veteran lawmaker provides the laughable response that he received this month from the State Department regarding Abedin’s cushy little arrangement in her final months at the agency. It says that Abedin voluntarily ended her full-time employment at the State Department on June 3, 2012 and was retained as a “senior adviser/expert, for which she was compensated at and hourly rate” and designated as a “Special Government Employee (SGE).”
Senator Grassley also received a letter from Abedin, dated July 5, 2013, further explaining her deal. Abedin claims that she wanted to live in New York after the birth of her son in December 2013, so she became a consultant/SGE through the remaining six months of Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State. She pats herself on the back for “voluntarily” disclosing six-figure income that she and her beloved hubby earned as “a result of consulting work.”
Details of Abedin’s arrangement are important for a variety of reasons. Among them is that one of the private clients she consulted while still at the State Department is Teneo Holdings, a firm run by a close Clinton pal. Senator Grassley believes Teneo may have been paying Abedin to gather information from government sources to help clients with investment decisions. This raises questions about whether her dual role was adequately disclosed to government officials, Grassley points out in his June letter to Secretary of State John Kerry.
More than a decade after being shamefully ousted as a top federal prosecutor for orchestrating the pardon of a big-time drug dealer, President Obama’s pick as the No. 2 official at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is embroiled in another scandal involving the Clintons.
Alejandro Mayorkas, Obama’s director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), is under fire for reportedly abusing his power to obtain U.S. visas for shady Chinese investors in a company run by none other than Hillary Clinton’s brother. Mayorkas intervened after his own agency denied the application and rejected an appeal, according to news reports.
The scandal broke because Obama recently picked Mayorkas to be second-in-command at DHS and the media obtained documents confirming that Mayorkas is named by the DHS Inspector General’s Office as a target in a probe involving the foreign investor program, known as EB-5, run by USCIS. Making matters worse, one of the visas sought by Hillary’s brother (Anthony Rodham) was for the vice president of a Chinese telecommunications firm that’s been investigated by Congress for its ties to China’s intelligence agencies.
The entire plot is atrocious enough, but if Mayorkas helped this particular Chinese telecom guru—no doubt a communist—obtain a U.S. visa, elevating him to be in charge of national security would be downright obscene. Not surprisingly, the White House and DHS, which oversees USCIS, have refused to comment. However, the news outlet that originally broke the story predicts the scandal “has the potential to become a political headache” for Hillary Clinton.
Mayorkas and the Clintons go back years. Mayorkas served as Bill Clinton’s U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California from 1998 to 2001 and resigned in shame after orchestrating the pardon of a major league drug trafficker. As U.S. Attorney Mayorkas was largely responsible for freeing the drug dealer serving a 15-year prison sentence for operating sophisticated cocaine rings that stretched from California to Minnesota.
The convicted drug dealer, Carlos Vignali, is the son of a wealthy political donor (Horacio Vignali) who convinced influential community leaders—mostly recipients of his generous contributions—to advocate for his son’s pardon. Mayorkas’ intervention was the most crucial and by far carried the most weight, Clinton officials later revealed. It also outraged federal prosecutors in Minneapolis, where Vignali was convicted for trying to sell 800 pounds of cocaine. After receiving numerous inquiries from Mayorkas about the case, the Minneapolis federal prosecutors wrote the Justice Department strongly opposing Vignali’s commutation but they were ignored.
A congressional investigation into Clinton’s last-minute pardons blasts Mayorkas for intervening on behalf of Vignali, pointing out that senior law enforcement and political officials should have been precluded from supporting a commutation for such a criminal. Mayorkas resigned in disgrace and went into private practice at a big Los Angeles law firm until Obama named him USCIS director in 2009. The White House announcement conveniently omits his role in freeing a convicted drug dealer, instead touting Mayorkas as a prosecutor of public corruption, organized crime and civil rights violations.
The U.S. economy remains in shambles and a relentless unemployment crisis grips the nation yet the Obama Administration is giving away $20 million for an innovative green energy venture in Africa.
The allocation comes less than two years after the administration dedicated $50 million to replace “inefficient cook stoves” contributing to climate change and deforestation in developing countries. Under that brilliant plan, villages in Africa, Asia and South America got 100 million clean burning stoves in the name of saving the planet.
In both cases—the African green energy and clean burning stove project—the cash is being handled by the famously corrupt United Nations as part of costly plan to conquer global warming. The latest Africa green venture is part of a broader sustainable energy project launched last year. In all, 50 countries have pledged $50 billion to the effort which is supposed to double the share of renewable energy worldwide by 2030.
As always, the biggest contributor to these outrageous, leftist global experiments is Uncle Sam. In this particular case, the goal is a formidable one; to boost clean energy projects in African nations. A mere $20 million will hardly get the job started, but the U.S. believes it will lead to hundreds of millions of dollars from the private sector for projects that otherwise would never get off the drawing board.
At least that’s how Secretary of State Hillary Clinton explained it at a huge U.N. powwow (Rio+20) held in Brazil this month to reduce poverty, advance social equity and ensure environmental protection on an ever more crowded planet. The conference focused on two themes; a green economy in the context of sustainable development poverty eradication and the institutional framework for sustainable development.
Clinton’s generous multi-million-dollar pledge was undoubtedly the highlight of the event or, at least it received the largest amount of media attention. During her speech at the Riocentro Convention Center in Rio de Janeiro Clinton asserted that clean energy will bring Africans new jobs, create new livelihoods, support education, new businesses, healthier and more productive lives. Though Africa is blessed with vast geothermal resources, only one in four households has access to electricity, Clinton said. “That is 600 million men, women, and children living without power that can’t turn on the lights, can’t use a machine in a factory.”
The gap is not attributed to a technological hurdle, Madam Secretary clarified, but rather a fear among investors who often see obstacles and risks that stop them from investing in clean energy in Africa. Here is the key phrase: “So if we can remove some of the risk and cover some of the costs of preparing a project, we believe we can spur significant new private investments in clean energy,” Clinton said. This, of course, means Uncle Sam must whip out his check book.