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Wednesday, April 16, 2014
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Published: 5/31/2013

Public and private

Just how far the Obama Administration has veered from its vow not to let government business be influenced by outside consultants is illustrated by the case of Huma Abedin, a top aide to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

After she stepped down as Mrs. Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, but while still serving as a State Department consultant, Ms. Abedin was a consultant to a lobbying firm that advises several global companies, including Coca-Cola. Those companies do business in many countries that Mrs. Clinton dealt with as America’s chief diplomat.

Ms. Abedin is married to the disgraced former congressman Anthony Weiner, now a Democratic candidate for mayor of New York. Ms. Abedin directs Mrs. Clinton’s transition office, which oversees her move to private life, or, perhaps, to a new political trajectory.

Political appointees, such as close aides in the office of secretary of State, are normal in presidential administrations, including Mr. Obama’s. But their other affiliations, especially paid ones, are usually looked at closely by government attorneys for potential conflicts of interest.

Did Ms. Abedin’s status receive this customary examination? If it did, how did she pass muster?

A fair conclusion is that Ms. Abedin and Mrs. Clinton, who should have been paying attention, got a pass. That’s troubling, given Ms. Abedin’s high rank and the level of politicization of this case.

What happened has implications for the Obama Administration, and also for the kind of official ethics Americans might anticipate if there were to be a future presidency for Mrs. Clinton.



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