– State: Email czar’s donations to Clinton have ‘no relevance’ (Washington Examiner, Sep 12, 2012):
The State Department on Wednesday dismissed the idea that its new transparency czar should be disqualified from helping to decide whether and how to release Hillary Clinton’s emails, even though she contributed to Clinton’s White House campaign.
State on Tuesday named Janice Jacobs as its new lead official on improving the process of preserving records and deciding how records will be disclosed to the public. But just hours later, it became clear that Jacobs donated $2,700 to Clinton — the most allowed under the law — just a few weeks ago.
That donation raised immediate questions about whether Jacobs is the right person to oversee the ongoing release of Clinton’s emails. On Wednesday, State spokesman John Kirby admitted that Jacobs will likely play a role as Clinton’s emails are released.
“I would expect that she will have views on how that’s being done,” he said. “So I can’t rule out the fact that she might not be examining some of the documents.”
But at the same time, Kirby rejected the notion that Jacobs’ support for Clinton creates a conflict of interest in the effort to learn more about Clinton’s role and reaction to the 2012 attack in Benghazi.
“The fact that she made a donation to Hillary Clinton, there’s no relevance on her ability to do this job, to do it objectively, fairly,” he said.
“I think we understand how some people might have that perception,” he said. “That said, again, Ambassador Jacobs was chosen for her exemplary service, particularly in this kind of area, and the secretary [John Kerry] is 100 percent convinced that she’s the right person for the job and will do the best job at it.”
“There’s no conflict of interest… none at all,” he added.
The Republican National Committee disagreed, and said giving Jacobs any role in releasing Clinton’s emails is a huge mistake.
“Putting a maxed out Clinton donor in charge of overseeing the process of releasing her emails doesn’t just give the appearance of a conflict of interest, it is one,” said RNC spokesman Michael Short.
Kirby went further by arguing that no one should be tossed out of a job just because they made a political contribution.
“I think that’s a very bad place for us to be if we’re going to start criticizing people for campaign contributions that they make in their private time, in retirement no less,” he said. “I don’t think that’s where we want to be as a country.”
Reporters pressed Kirby by saying the real criticism is being leveled at State for hiring someone who is widely seen as having a conflict of interest when it comes to deciding which of Clinton’s emails to release.
But Kirby said, “I kind of disagree,” and added that he wasn’t aware at all of Jacobs’ donation to Clinton until yesterday.
“We were not aware of the contribution, but I would tell you … that it bears no relevance on her selection one way or the other,” he said. “She’s the right person for this job, the secretary is convinced of that.”