Colum Kenny: Stolen emails show Clintons’ charitable and personal affairs intertwined

The last-minute release of some stolen, unfairly edited or invented email could yet sway the election

In a remarkable US election, one of the most remarkable facts is how little outrage there has been about that other Clinton email scandal – someone stole her private emails and has freely made use of them. It could happen to any of us, any time. It wrecks trust in online communications.

The emails reveal a gilded world, far from that of the "deplorables" who support Donald Trump and whom Hillary Clinton has condemned.

It is unfair that Trump's emails are not also hacked and published. Partisan and illegal, this second email scandal is as worrying as Watergate.

Yet there’s no denying that the emails provide a fascinating glimpse of a world where the princes of politics and commerce weave their Machiavellian web.

"Leverage" and "honorary" are key words in one of the key stolen memos published by WikiLeaks. It discloses tens of millions paid to Bill Clinton for advice and speeches, and shows how the Clintons' charitable and personal affairs have been intertwined.

The memo was written by Doug Band, a partner with Irishman Declan Kelly in a highly successful US consultancy firm called Teneo, whose clients have included Coca-Cola, Dow Chemicals and BHP Billiton ("one of the world's largest companies"). Kelly's brother Alan is a former Irish Labour minister.

Band and Kelly have long been close to Bill and Hillary Clinton. Band says Teneo "leveraged" its clients to make big donations to the Clinton Foundation, an admirable global charity active in Haiti and elsewhere. The foundation also started the annual meeting of "global leaders" known as the Clinton Global Initiative.

A Dow statement shows why Teneo’s clients support the Clinton charity. Dow says that its participation in the Clinton Global Initiative is “well aligned to core business and citizenship strategies that have positively leveraged the resources and capabilities of our company.”

Dow’s turn of phrase could signify useful public relations, and buying into a benign context for networking or lobbying. Or maybe it means that selfless shareholders just wanted to spend their money doing good.

Dow Chemicals, for example, flew Bill Clinton and his staff to and from North Korea, saving the Clinton Foundation $100,000 it is said. Icarus may not have crossed Bill's flight path, but that soaring son of the mythical Greek Daedalus should have crossed his mind.

Another stolen email shows that Chelsea Clinton was alarmed to be told that a member of her father's staff (reportedly answerable to Doug Band) lobbied British MPs on behalf of Teneo clients, especially Dow Chemicals. These calls, she said, precipitated "people in London making comparisons between my father and Tony Blair's profit motivations. Which would horrify my father."

Teneo garnered tens of millions in private fees for Bill Clinton, as well as donations to the Clinton Foundation. These give the word “honorary” an unusual meaning.

Thus, "to provide advice and serve as their honorary chairman" the private Laureate International Universities paid Bill Clinton $3.5 million annually.

Bill “turned down a two-year, $8 million offer to become honorary chairman” of another private venture. But Doug Band went back to that company and “proposed a new structure without any business connectivity other than 4 speeches for $1 million and $250,000 to the foundation should President Clinton choose to accept it.”

The Oxford English Dictionary defines “honorary” as, “unpaid, or offering only minimal remuneration.”

Russians allegedly hacked and stole these emails, ostensibly encouraged by Trump. WikiLeaks seized on them, with reckless disregard to their partisan nature.

The last-minute release of some stolen, unfairly edited or invented email could yet sway the election.

What the stolen private emails do not show yet is any improper or other direct enrichment of Bill or Hillary out of the Clinton Foundation. On the contrary, they show that Chelsea Clinton was sensitive to the foundation's reputation.

They also do not show any impropriety on the part of global corporations. What they do reveal is a glimpse of a realm in which the high and mighty and those with whom they deign to mingle dispose of money and make decisions far from the prying eyes of media and most democratic representatives.

Donald Trump is very critical of the US media. Yet some American reports on the stolen emails have come across in a way that could be thought to imply impropriety by the Clintons.

Trump himself is quite at home in the realm in which the Clintons move, and has in the past rubbed shoulders with them, both corporately and socially.

Those who feel left behind in such a world may seek solace in deplorable political options, from Islamic extremism to Ukip to (paradoxically) Donald Trump.