Every day the Bolton fiasco grows more incredible.
Some want to call this entire mess BoltonGate, but I don’t want to trivialize or resort to cliches (yet) to describe some of the really outrageous practices of the John Bolton fiefdom at the State Department.
I recommend a quick read of the Matthew Freedman interview with staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. (I have linked it as a pdf file.)
Read here and here about some earlier revelations about Mr. Freedman — particularly his role as a lobbyist on behalf of Ferdinand Marcos’s government exactly when Senator Richard Lugar became one of the key pivots in turning U.S. support towards Cory Aquino — for whom the present U.N. Chief of Staff Mark Malloch Brown then lobbied.
Matthew Freedman, by his own account, had a light load in John Bolton’s office — and maintained a private roster of consulting clients. During his interview, he would not discuss who those clients were — but let’s just suggest that TWN is pretty sure that his clients weren’t AIDS hospices, charter schools, or organic farms. Freedman once lobbied for the Government of Nigeria — and had a roster of very top end corporate clients in his past business activities.
Freedman has worked for Bolton for the last four years, has known him since 1981, was listed in the State Department Directory in Bolton’s office, billed for 200 days of work — while other staff report to TWN that they hardly saw him, and made approximately $110,000 plus per year (GS-15 level) — while also making money from his roster of undisclosed private clients.
Senator Hagel — does this kind of arrangement strike you as somewhat odd? Perhaps unethical?
Again, America’s Ambassador to the United Nations should be a person with nearly impeccable credentials and someone the nation can feel ‘easily’ proud of. Bolton comes no where near this standard.
If Bolton so badly managed his own office, not just in terms of abuse of intel underlings but paid a “management consultant” a six-figure salary for unclear services while the person maintained private clients — who no doubt had an interest in his diplomatic and foreign policy access inside the State Department — then why are we sending such a person to “clean up” the United Nations?
Bolton has no credibility as a manager in non-profit organizations. The one he ran — the National Policy Forum — had its non-profit stripped for inappropriate activities and funding irregularities.
And now we learn that he has hired an old pal to a low-stress, high paid position for more than four years — with an ethical cloud hovering above the fact that he drew lots of government money while listed among State Department staff and got paid on the side by corporate and/or foreign government clients.
After lambasting Kofi Annan for not taking action towards staff and his son regarding the Oil-for-Food scandal, are Senators and the media going to turn a blind eye to this interesting possible set of ethical conflicts between Bolton and Matthew Freedman?
This is a serious matter — far more serious than the media have yet acknowledged.
But the Senators will not be able to feign ignorance about this. The Matthew Freedman interview is in their briefing notes on John Bolton.
More later. . .
— Steve Clemons