State Dept sued over Hillary Clinton’s ethics records

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A nonprofit watchdog filed a lawsuit against the Department of State Tuesday to force the agency to turn over ethics records for former secretary of state and democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and her staff.

Cause of Action Institute filed the suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia after the State Department didn’t produce documents in response to the watchdog’s Aug. 24 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the ethics records.

“It appears that State Department officials during Secretary Clinton’s tenure did not take their ethics responsibilities seriously,” Cause of Action Institute Vice President John Vecchione said in a statement. “Americans have a right to know whether Secretary Clinton and her aides at the State Department flouted ethics requirements in order to grant special treatment to Clinton Foundation supporters.”

Specifically, the watchdog requested copies of recusals and ethics agreements for Clinton and her staff, as well as any waivers, exemptions or communications concerning the then-secretary of state and the Clinton Foundation. Cause of Action Institute argued that the records would help the public understand whether Clinton complied with ethics agreements.

The lawsuit follows released emails that suggest Clinton Foundation donors received special access to the secretary of state.

“Those emails raise questions about whether she and members of her staff adequately addressed potential conflicts of interest,” Cause of Action Institute’s statement said.

The watchdog pointed to an agreement Clinton signed in January 2009, which said:

If confirmed as Secretary of State, I will not participate personally and substantially in any particular matter that has a direct and predictable effect upon the [Clinton Foundation], unless I first obtain a written waiver or qualify for a regulatory exemption.

Additionally, the State Department’s inspector general reported that nearly half of State appointees didn’t complete required ethics training during Clinton’s last full year as secretary of state, Cause of Action Institute noted.

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