Bill and Hillary Clinton are facing fresh accusations of nepotism and revenge politics after a Democratic foreign policy adviser claimed they tried to obtain a scholarship for Chelsea Clinton’s boyfriend, and later punished the adviser for backing then-candidate Barack Obama in 2008.
The Guardian reports that the allegations were made by Trina Vargo in a new book: “Shenanigans: the U.S.-Ireland Relationship in Uncertain Times.” Vargo is the founder of the U.S-Ireland Alliance, a D.C.-based non-profit.
The controversy surrounded the Mitchell scholarship -- named after former Sen. George Mitchell, D-Maine, who is credited with helping forge the 1998 Good Friday agreement -- which sends 12 students each year to study in Ireland and Northern Ireland.
But in the book, Vargo claims that in 2000, Mitchell told her that then-President Bill Clinton called him to say he was "very unhappy" that Chelsea’s boyfriend was not on the shortlist for the grant -- despite a letter from the White House.
“It would be hard to believe that the timing of the president’s call wasn’t aimed at influencing us to make him a finalist,” Vargo writes in the book, noting that the boyfriend still did not make it to the shortlist.
According to the Guardian, Vargo writes that she was later put on the path to joining the Clintons' “enemies list” -- a journey that was furthered when she advised Obama’s campaign on Irish policy during his Democratic primary race against Hillary Clinton.
Vargo cites two incidents as part of the “payback” she alleges from the Clintons. The first was that Bill canceled his scheduled appearance at a U.S.-Ireland Alliance event in Belfast to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the Good Friday agreement.
Vargo also claims that the State Department in 2012, when Hillary was secretary of state, cut its $500,000 funding to the Mitchell scholarship, citing budgetary measures -- but Vargo claims it was part of the “payback.”
Representatives for the Clintons said that the accusations are "patently false."
“Their legacy there is something they are incredibly proud of and one that is well documented," President Clinton spokesman Angel Ureña and Hillary Clinton adviser Nick Merrill told Fox News. "These accusations are baseless and patently false.”
Ureña also noted that Sen. Mitchell and President Clinton were in Northern Ireland last year to mark the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday agreement.
Vargo says she has filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to find out the reason for the funding cuts, but has only received documents with “lower-level” names.