Congressional sources say the Clinton confidant under scrutiny on Capitol Hill over detailed Libya memos he sent to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told lawmakers earlier this week he has been pulling in $200,000 a year from Clinton ally David Brock’s media operation.
The figure is far higher than initially reported.
Although the payments to Sidney Blumenthal may not reflect any apparent conflict of interest, his work with Brock’s liberal advocacy and media groups was a focus of his high-profile deposition on Tuesday before the House Benghazi committee. Republicans’ rationale for the questioning was that his financial and political interests are important context, at a time when he was sending high-level guidance to Clinton.
Politico.com first reported that Republicans grilled Blumenthal on his work for Brock’s groups. But while the report said Blumenthal was making more than $10,000 a month, congressional sources say he acknowledged during the deposition he actually had a $200,000-a-year contract.
The money was in addition to the $10,000 a month he was getting for work with the Clinton Foundation.
“He was getting, from Clinton, Inc., $320,000 a year,” one source told FoxNews.com.
The Brock-founded groups are not actually part of the Clinton empire, though Brock is a Clinton ally. The source said Blumenthal has been working with Media Matters, American Bridge and Correct the Record. Another congressional source, though, told FoxNews.com the contract was specifically with Media Matters.
Though it’s unclear exactly what Blumenthal was paid to do, Politico reported his work entailed giving high-level strategy and messaging guidance, and the Benghazi debate was likely part of that. The groups above have busily defended then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from GOP broadsides.
Emails related to this work surfaced in the package of documents delivered to the Benghazi committee ahead of Tuesday’s session — emails that weren’t part of the initial package of documents handed over by the State Department.
One of those emails to Clinton linked several Media Matters posts on Benghazi, essentially defending the State Department.
FoxNews.com is told one of them read: “Got all this done, complete refutation on Libya smear.” The email said, “Philippe can circulate these links.” Philippe Reines was a senior adviser to Clinton.
“Despite the fact that the conclusions of nine congressional committee reports and the findings from an independent review board don’t support his political agenda, Chairman [Trey] Gowdy keeps doubling down and expanding his taxpayer funded fishing expedition in the hopes of undermining Secretary Clinton’s presidential campaign,” Zac Petkanas, VP for communications at Media Matters for America, told FoxNews.com in an email. “This week’s spectacle is the latest proof that he is failing.”
Brock also told Politico: “The Republicans asked more about what our groups do to debunk their false claims about Benghazi than about the attacks in Benghazi? That sounds like a bizarre waste of time.”
The New York Times first reported on Blumenthal’s memos and said the information was coming from “business associates” Blumenthal was advising, including former CIA official Tyler Drumheller.
Blumenthal said he answered every question over the course of nine hours. He said the emails were mostly “old news” and hopes he cleared up “misconceptions.”
Democrats were fuming over Tuesday’s session and have called on Gowdy to release the transcript of the deposition. Further, they say the latest documents reveal no “smoking gun” about the Benghazi attacks, which killed four Americans.
[I]n fact, they hardly relate to Benghazi at all,” Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., top Democrat on the committee, said in a statement.
FoxNews.com is told Blumenthal only disclosed his payments from Brock’s groups on Tuesday after he was specifically asked about them — and that he didn’t initially disclose them when asked about his sources of income.