Controversy over who has access to Hillary and Bill Clinton
(Photo: Fanshare)

Just in time for the Clinton Global Initiative in Manhattan this week comes a major new controversy about who has access to former President Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary. There is a large Irish angle also.

Recent media attacks on Doug Band, formerly Bill Clinton’s right hand man also rope in his Irish business partner Declan Kelly, both of whom run Teneo, a public affairs company closely connected to the Clintons.  (Full disclosure: I have known Declan Kelly for many years.)

The New Republic has a big article entitled “Scandal at Clinton Inc”  slating Band, who graduated from being Clinton’s body man, taking care of the most menial tasks, to the architect of his post-presidency massive popularity as head of the Global Initiative and the Clinton Foundation which has shoveled billions into deserving causes.

Along the way Band has become a very rich man, and his partnership in Teneo with former Irish public relations guru and U.S. economic envoy to Northern Ireland Kelly has resulted in a highly lucrative career for both.

The New Republic makes it clear that many believe Teneo has used the Clinton contacts to create its core business, and that Clinton has now become upset with the very public linking of Teneo with his foundation and the soliciting of Foundation donors for Teneo business.

The article claims that a major rift now exists between Clinton and Band  and that despite that, Band still does business proclaiming his closeness to the former president.

The New Republic finding is echoed in a New York magazine profile of Hillary Clinton where Band and Teneo are once again used as whipping boys for Clinton dissatisfaction.

In particular it seems Chelsea Clinton, who is playing a much bigger role with the newly christened Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation, is upset.

 “Chelsea’s arrival was a clear if unspoken critique of Doug Band,” New York magazine author Joe Hagan writes. “In Chelsea’s view the foundation started by Band had become sprawling and inefficient...threatened by unchecked spending and conflicts of interest.”

Clearly, given that it is Clinton Global Initiative week, there is a concerted effort to attack Band and Teneo, and some insiders within the Clinton camp are leading the charge.

Among the alleged offenses in the New Republic piece are Declan Kelly taking too long to introduce Clinton, Tony Blair and George W. Bush at a Teneo event and showcasing Teneo staff instead, and Kelly stating that Teneo had delivered Clinton to a conference in Ireland when the claim was that he was invited by the Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny.

There is clearly a lot at stake here. Band has now been scrutinized and criticized in The New York Times, Time Magazine, the New Republic and New York magazine, as well as in several tabloids such as the New York Post.  Amazingly for a public relations expert, he has not seemed to answer back.

The other vexed question concerns Huma Abedin, Hillary’s closest aide who had a part-time contract with Teneo while still employed by the State Department. Her dual jobbing is now the focus of a congressional investigation by Darrell Issa, the Republican congressman known for digging deep.

All of which indicates a huge struggle is underway for the ear of the Clintons and to denigrate Teneo and its principals as the 2016 presidential race comes into focus.  (See New York magazine’s cover story on Hillary this week as evidence of that.) Will Band and Teneo prevail and keep the confidence of the Clintons?

Stay tuned.