Just how far the administration of President Barack Obama has veered from its original pious statements of intention not to let the government's business be influenced by outside consultants is illustrated by the case of Huma Abedin, former Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton's former deputy chief of staff.
While receiving compensation from the Department of State in 2012 as one of Ms. Clinton's closest aides, Ms. Abedin also worked as a consultant for private clients that included Teneo, a lobbying firm. Teneo advised companies such as Coca-Cola and MF Global, the failed brokerage firm headed by Jon S. Corzine, a former Democratic senator and governor of New Jersey. She was also a consultant to the William Jefferson Clinton Foundation.
Teneo has nine overseas offices. Coca-Cola is active in many countries with which Ms. Clinton interrelated as America's chief diplomat.
Ms. Abedin is in general considered something of a sympathetic figure since she is married to former U.S. Congressman Anthony D. Weiner, a Democrat from New York. He was obliged to resign from office in the wake of exhibitionist photos of part of his anatomy that he sent out in his public Twitter account in 2011. He is currently exploring possibilities of running for mayor of New York. Ms. Abedin is now serving as director of Ms. Clinton's transition office, which administers her move from Secretary of State to private life, or, perhaps, to an onward political trajectory.
Political appointees, particularly close aides in the office of the Secretary of State, are considered normal for administrations, including Mr. Obama's. On the other hand, their other affiliations, particularly paid ones, are normally looked at closely by government attorneys for conflicts of interest. The question has to be asked why Ms. Abedin's status did not receive the customary examination and, if it did, how it and she passed muster.
The conclusion that suggests itself is that Ms. Abedin and Ms. Clinton, who should have been paying attention, were given a pass on this one. Given the high rank and the high level of politicization of the case, what occurred also has implications for the present state of the Obama administration and the level of ethics to be expected if there were to be a future presidency for Ms. Clinton.