Published July 26, 2013
Despite her husband being the butt of late-night jokes and water-cooler ridicule, Huma Abedin is standing by Anthony Weiner, and he, by her. "I love her,” Weiner said at a press conference Thursday. “She loves me. We have a son. Nothing else matters."
But Abedin is facing her own troubles -- less salacious than her husband's, but potentially more severe.
On June 13, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, wrote her and Secretary of State John Kerry asking why Abedin, the deputy chief of staff at the State Department under former Secretary Hillary Clinton, was granted status as a "special government employee" after the birth of her son.
That title allowed her to work from home as a part-time consultant to State, earning $135,000 as a government employee -- while also earning $355,000 as a consultant for Teneo, where former President Bill Clinton is a board member.
Grassley wants to know who authorized Abedin's change in status, what effect that change had on her security clearances, and whether the department interacted with the companies with which Abedin consulted.
"I am concerned that the 'special government employee' designation blurs the line between public and private sector employees, especially when employees receive full-time salaries for what appears to be part-time work," Grassley wrote to Abedin.
Craig Holman of Public Citizen, a government ethics watchdog group, says Abedin's dual status raises serious questions.
"If this story pans out that Huma actually had access to inside information while serving as a government official but at the same time serving as a strategic consultant to a firm that actively trades in the stock market, this could be quite a problem, " he said.
Grassley's office late Thursday gave Fox News the written responses sent to him by the State Department and Abedin.
Abedin wrote that her consultancy was approved by State Department lawyers. She added that once approved, she "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."
The State Department said it uses special government employees routinely "to provide services and expertise that executive agencies require..."
But Grassley found the letters unresponsive. In a statement late Thursday, he said that neither "provided a single document that I requested."
"Putting up a stone wall raises a lot more questions about how the program is being used than it answers. I intend to pursue more complete answers to my questions," he said.