WASHINGTON: A new batch of Hillary Clinton’s emails presented a glimpse into the breadth of her personal network — a long list of powerful celebrities, CEOs, political advisers and politicians that she’s now tapping for her presidential campaign.
A political celebrity long before she became secretary of state in 2009, Clinton and her team balanced requests from a slew of boldface names. Lady Gaga complimented her, former British prime minister Tony Blair praised her for doing the “Lord’s Work”, Myanmar’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi asked for technology help and former president Jimmy Carter pitched in on negotiations with North Korea.
While Clinton’s private email address was unknown to much of official Washington, at least one Hollywood celebrity wrote to her there. Ben Affleck, a longtime Clinton supporter, urged her in April 2012 to review a draft of a report about security problems in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Hours later, Clinton emailed an aide, “I’d like to respond to Ben Affleck.” A day later, she reminded an aide that she was still waiting for the aide to draft a reply: “I haven’t yet received a draft and would like to respond today.”
The response to Affleck was censored in the email released Friday by the State Department, because it was a draft version.
In another December 2011 note, civil rights leader and former presidential candidate Jesse Jackson reached out to Clinton’s staff with a request to talk to her before his visit to South Africa, asking how best to “represent her/Admin thinking on any issues/opportunities that might arise.” He was quickly added to her call list.
On Friday, hours before the email release, Jackson touted Clinton’s candidacy before a meeting of black pastors in Atlanta, saying: “It’s healing time. It’s hope time. It’s Hillary Clinton time.”
Clinton has faced questions about whether her unusual email setup, which involved a private server located at her New York home, was sufficient to ensure the security of government information and retention of records.
At least two Senate committees are still investigating Clinton’s email arrangement and seeking the release of correspondence from her top aides. The FBI is also investigating the security of Clinton’s private email setup.
Yet Clinton’s place in preference polls has improved since the first Democratic primary debate, in which her chief primary rival, Vermont independent Senator Bernie Sanders, defused the issue, saying “the American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails.”
Roughly half of Clinton’s 30,000 work-related emails are now public, and the State Department’s effort to release the rest will linger into next year. Most of the correspondence made public to date involves the mundane workings of government - scheduling meetings, organizing secure phone lines and booking flights.
A few of the emails hint at the ways Clinton maintained her network of campaign donors, even while serving in a position at a distance from electoral politics. In a June 2011 message, an aide informs Clinton that longtime donor Susie Buell contributed $200,000 towards a summit at which Clinton was scheduled to speak.
“She wants it to be wonderful for you,” wrote Clinton aide Melanne Verveer.
In April 2011, Clinton’s aides received a request from Jose Villarreal, a former Clinton campaign adviser from Texas, to speak at the launch of a project she asked him to start involving US engagement with Mexico. Clinton told her aides to develop a press and social media outreach “to every possible group.” Villarreal now serves as her campaign’s treasurer.
In the spring of 2011, former Clinton campaign aide Burns Strider passed along a request from George Buskirk, a retired general and an officer with the American Legion asking her to speak at the group’s national convention. “The leadership loves Hillary!!! This all stems from her visit and speech at American Legion Mall in 2008 when she won the Indiana Primary,” Buskirk wrote Strider.
After the letter reached Clinton, she emailed one of her aides, noting it was “from one of the Generals who supported me.” She later advised, “Pls regret but w special attention!”