Denis O’Brien used his influence with Bill Clinton’s charitable foundation to collect relief efforts for the earthquake that happened in Haiti through his mobile company,Digicel.
Freshly revealed emails show that the Irish businessman contacted Doug Band, Mr. Clinton’s closest assistant who handled the Clinton Foundation, ten days after the January 2010 earthquake. He sought assistance to reach the state department, where Bill Clinton’s wife, Hillary, was secretary of state at that time. He wanted to transport relief goods to the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince and to relocate his workers.
As Denis O’Brien wrote in his email to Mr. Band, “He was finding difficulty in getting slots to convey the communication equipment and its engineers to Port-au-Prince.”
“Is there a way to introduce a high ranking official in the State Department to settle the problem quickly? My sincerest apologies for bothering you but it seems that there is no progress using conventional channels.”
Mr. Band’s email to Mr. O’Brien said, “It never bothered us and we’ll see what we can do to help you.” He made a copy to Amitabh Desai, the foreign policy director of the Clinton Foundation, instructing him to work on it.
That night, Mr. Desai sent an email to Caitlin Klevorick and other state department staff, pushing them to help Denis O’Brien, who was considered a Clinton VIP.
Ms. Klevorick then gave close attention to the email sent by Mr. Desai and acknowledged that Mr. O’Brien was indeed a good friend of the President.
The emails were featured on the ABC news stories, where the then Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump used it to aggress Mrs. Clinton, his Democratic opponent to the White House. He claimed that ‘friends of Bill’ got special attention after the Haiti earthquake and tweeted “Unbelievable!”
Mr. O’Brien, who has given around $10-million and $25-million to the Clinton Foundation personally and through Digicel, opposed that his contacts were purely to seek refuge for what happened in Haiti.
“I see no problem with contacting anyone from the US for transporting an emergency aid to people dying on the streets due to lack of medical attention,” he spoke to ABC in an interview.
Denis O’Brien added that Bill Clinton appealed to everyone to donate in Haiti after such horrible earthquake.