WASHINGTON, USA — A donor to the Clinton Foundation reached out to then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s office to promote a Haiti hotel project that later received support from the US government and former president Bill Clinton, according to emails released by the Department of State.
Richard L. Friedman, a Boston hotel developer emailed Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s chief of staff, to tout the project on May 17, 2011, the Washington Free Beacon reported.
“We had a good meeting with Jean-Louis, Marriott executives, [the Overseas Private Investment Corporation], etc regarding building hotels in Haiti — I am pursuing this vigorously and hope to be able to develop 2 to 3 hotels with Marriott as manager,” wrote Friedman. “I am talking with Commerce and Export/Import Bank today.”
Friedman said he recently had a discussion with Hillary Clinton at the White House and asked Mills to forward her a note for him. It is unclear what he and Clinton discussed, and portions of his email have been redacted by the State Department due to “personal private interests.” The note he asked Mills to send to Clinton is also redacted.
“I will keep you informed about our progress in Haiti — we are going to need all the help we can get,” Friedman wrote Mills.
Friedman contributed between $1,000 and $5,000 to the Clinton Foundation and gave $2,300 to Clinton’s presidential campaign in 2008, records show.
He is not the only Clinton donor associated with Marriott’s efforts in Haiti. The Digicel Group teamed up with Marriott International in 2011 in Port-au-Prince to build a luxury hotel, which opened earlier this year.
Digicel has contributed between $25,000 and $50,000 to the Clinton Foundation, and its owner, the Irish billionaire Denis O’Brien, has donated between $5 million and $10 million. Unigestion Holdings, a subsidiary of Digicel that was reportedly tasked with managing the hotel project, gave between $10,000 and $25,000.
Marriott International is also a hefty donor to the Clinton Foundation, contributing between $50,000 and $100,000.
According to a Marriott press release on November 28, 2011, the Clinton Foundation helped arrange the partnership between the hotel group and Digicel.
Marriott has received support for its hotel projects from the US government and affiliated international donor groups. In 2012, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, a US government entity whose budget is linked to the State Department, pledged to provide long-term loans of up to $200 million to help finance Marriott International “environmentally-sustainable” hotel construction in “emerging markets” in the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean.
The International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank Group whose US funding is also linked to the State Department appropriations, provided $26.5 million in financing to help construct the Port-au-Prince Marriott in 2013.
Watchdogs said the lack of transparency in this matter is unacceptable.
“Wherever government money or support tied to the State Department is directed to a project in Haiti involving a major donor to the Clinton Foundation, the public is entitled to full transparency,” said Ken Boehm, chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center, a government watchdog group.
The emails in question are one of thousands released by the State Department in response to freedom of information requests relating to her use of a private email account hosted on her own private server to conduct official and allegedly classified business.
Three months after Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email address and server while secretary of state was referred to the FBI, the investigating team is now reportedly focused on whether there were violations of an Espionage Act subsection pertaining to “gross negligence” in the safekeeping of national defence information.
Investigators are also reportedly focused on possible obstruction of justice.
The Clintons are no stranger to controversy regarding Haiti, notably, their highly questionable involvement there after the 2010 earthquake.
Hillary Clinton was secretary of state from January 21, 2009, to February 1, 2013. In December, 2012, her brother’s company got a lucrative gold mining contract in Haiti. During her time there, the State Department through its US Agency for International Development (USAID) disbursed $3.6 billion for Haitian “earthquake relief”.
Hillary Clinton, as US secretary of state, therefore handed out billions in USAID money in Haiti. At the same time, her husband, former US president Bill Clinton, was taking money for his private foundation from foreign governments that Secretary Hillary dealt with in an official capacity.
Then the day she resigned from the State Department in February 2013, Hillary’s brother Tony Rodham just happened to be lucky and was appointed a director of the company that had acquired the gold mining contract in Haiti, something the company claimed happened virtually out of the blue and the public was asked to believe involved no antecedent discussion during the time Clinton was secretary of state and her husband had control of billions in post-earthquake aid.
Leading Haitian lawyer and human rights activist, Ezili Dantò, has charged that Bill Clinton, as head of the Haitian relief fund, was responsible for some $6 billion of international relief aid received.
“Less than 1% of this amount made it to the Haitian government. Bill Clinton had total control of the balance,” Dantò claimed.