Top Hillary Clinton aides in April 2015 decided to accept money raised by lobbyists representing foreign interests despite the potential political fallout and without telling Clinton, according to newly leaked emails.
One top adviser simply emailed, “Take the money!!”
The internal discussions were disclosed Sunday in a new batch of WikiLeaks messages that allegedly were stolen from the Gmail account of Clinton Campaign Chairman John Podesta. About 12,000 of 50,000 purported Podesta emails have been released so far. The discussion about taking funds raised by people disclosed as lobbyists under the Foreign Agents Registration Act began on April 13, the day after Clinton announced she was seeking the Democratic presidential nomination.
Clinton Finance Director Dennis Cheng initially raised the subject, unclear about whether the campaign was indiscriminately allowing “those lobbying on behalf of foreign governments to raise” money for the campaign or if the issue would be decided on a case-by-case basis. General Counsel Marc Elias called the decision “a straight up political call” and aide Jesse Ferguson simply asked, “How much money we’re throwing away” if they turned down foreign lobbyists.
The next day, aide Karuna Seshasai noted that 27 of 370 prospective bundlers had already been flagged as registered with FARA. Among the countries represented were Iraq, Azerbaijan, Egypt, Libya, the United Arab Emirates and Libya.