The federal report that purportedly found a top Hillary Clinton aide was overpaid by nearly $10,000 because she violated State Department rules while at the agency is “fundamentally flawed,” an attorney for the Clinton aide said Saturday.
“No hardworking, dedicated public servant should be subjected to irresponsible allegations based on a fundamentally flawed report, and the State Department has undertaken a review of the report,” attorney Karen Dunn said.
The Washington Post first reported the purported findings of the report Friday, after Iowa GOP Sen. Charles Grassley sent letters to Secretary of State John Kerry and others about an investigation into possible “criminal” conduct by Abedin over her pay and her possibly violating rules that govern vacation and sick time.
The letters also sought the status of an investigation into whether Abedin violated conflict-of-interest laws related to her work for the State Department, the Clinton Foundation and another private firm founded by a Clinton ally, according to The Post.
The finding that Abedin, who now serves as vice chairwoman of Clinton’s presidential campaign, had improperly collected taxpayer money could damage Clinton’s candidacy, a GOP lawmakers insist that government rules were bent to benefit Clinton and her aides and at the same time could bolster Democratic claims that Republicans are using their oversight role to purposely damage Clinton politically.
The Post reports that Grassley indicated in the letters he was describing an inquiry by the State Department’s Inspector General. Grassley wrote, in letters to Abedin, Kerry and the Inspector General, that staff of the inspector general had found “at least a reasonable suspicion of a violation” of law concerning the “theft of public money through time and attendance fraud” and possible conflicts to Abedin’s “overlapping employment,” according to the newspaper.
Grassley also noted the possibility that efforts to investigate the allegations were nixed because Abedin’s exchanges were sent through Clinton’s private email server.
The Post also reported, citing the letter describing the investigation, Abedin’s time sheets said she never took a vacation or sick leave during her four years at the State Department, which started in January 2009 and last until February 2013. The senator did write the investigation found evidence that Abedin did take some time off, including a 10-day trip to Italy.
Attorneys for Abedin told the newspaper she learned in May that the State Department’s inspector general concluded she improperly collected $9,857 for the time she was on vacation or leave. Abedin has responded to the allegations with a 12-page letter contesting the findings and a request for administrative review of the investigation’s conclusions.
In the letters, Grassley also contends Clinton’s private email server interfered with the investigation.
“The OIG had reason to believe that email evidence relevant to that inquiry was contained in emails Ms. Abedin sent and received from her account on Secretary Clinton’s non-government server, making them unavailable to the OIG through its normal statutory right of access records,” he wrote.
Grassley has been questioning Abedin’s “special government employee” status, which allowed her to take a job at the Clinton Foundation and Teneo, a firm led by former aide for Bill Clinton, Douglas Band. Abedin worked there for her final six months at the State Department.
Grassley’s letter to Kerry alleges that Abedin had exchanged at least 7,300 emails that “involved” Band, but didn’t expand on how many of those were between Abedin and Band.