The State Department’s inspector general has agreed to investigate the program that allowed former Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton to hire one of her key advisors, Huma Abedin, for government work even as she was also employed by a private firm, a senator revealed Friday.
Inspector General Steve A. Linick also said he wasn’t aware of Mrs. Clinton’s or Ms. Abedin’s use of a non-government email account to conduct official business, and said that’s generally been frowned upon at the department. He pointed to a 2012 report that instructed an embassy to stop using a commercial email system as evidence.
And Mr. Linick said he is looking into whether those employed as Special Government Employees — the designation Mrs. Clinton gave to Ms. Abedin — are following the law, and avoiding conflicts of interest.
“The OIG intends to examine the department’s SGE program to determine if it confirms to applicable legal and policy requirements,” Mr. Linick said in response to a request from Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley, Iowa Republican.
Mrs. Clinton approved hiring Ms. Abedin, her long-time assistant, as an SGE, which allowed her to collect a government salary while also continuing to work for Teneo, a private firm. Mr. Grassley said there the usual conflict-of-interest questions in an arrangement like this are only heightened by the report that Ms. Abedin used the same non-official email server Mrs. Clinton set up for herself.
Mr. Grassley also questioned whether Ms. Abedin was qualified to be designated an SGE, saying that privilege is supposed to be used to entice someone in the private sector to split his or her time, in order for the government to tap someone’s “special knowledge and skills.” In Ms. Abedin’s case she was already working for Mrs. Clinton when she was converted to an SGE, allowing her to then also take an outside job, Mr. Grassley said.
“It is unclear what special knowledge or skills Ms. Abedin possessed that the government could not have easily obtained otherwise from regular government employees,” Mr. Grassley wrote to current Secretary of State John Kerry.
The State Department has yet to respond to Mr. Grassley’s inquiry, the senator said.
Ms. Abedin is married to disgraced former Rep. Anthony Weiner.