Huma Abedin’s Murky Role at State Department Under Scrutiny

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Photo: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

Huma Abedin is caught up in more controversy, and for the first time in many weeks, it has nothing to do with her husband's social media dalliances. For months,Republican Senator Chuck Grassley has been questioning why Abedin was made a "special government employee" by the State Department in June 2012, allowing her to stay on as an adviser to the secretary of State while working for Teneo, a consulting firm founded by a former aide to Bill Clinton, and being privately employed by the Clinton Foundation and Hillary Clinton personally. Now the New York Times has joined in Grassley's quest, but both Abedin and the State Department remain less than forthcoming about her arrangement.

In a letter to Grassley last month, Abedin said she sought the special status because after giving birth to her son, she wanted to stay in New York but continue working for the State Department. She added that while working with private clients, "I also was not asked, nor did I provide insights about the department, my work with the secretary, or any government information to which I may have had access." She resigned from the government position on February 1.

Little documentation has been provided to back up Abedin's description. Grassley's office says it hasn't been able to obtain information on who authorized Abedin's arrangement, how much she earned from her various positions, or how much the State Department knew about her private consulting business. In response to a request from the Times about who else in the department was designated as "special government employee," the agency said, "As a general policy, the Department of State does not disclose employee information of this nature."

For those keeping score (or searching for ammunition to use against Hillary in 2016), this is the third controversy to emerge this summer about the murky roles of those involved in various Clinton-related ventures. Though the Clintons have done their best to steer clear of Weiner, former staffers were unofficially involved in every campaign milestone. And last week the Times reported on the many conflicts of interest within the Clinton Foundation. The two situations mainly provided more gossip fodder, but questions about Abedin's role as a government employee could prove more serious. "Basic information about a special category of employees who earn a government salary shouldn’t be a state secret," Grassley complained to the Times. "Disclosure of information builds accountability from the government to the taxpaying public. Agencies that lose sight of transparency also lose public trust."