Person

Chelsea Clinton

Chelsea Clinton DNC July 2016 (cropped) (link)
Birth Date:

February 27, 1980

Parents:

Bill and Hillary Clinton

Occupation:

Author

Chelsea Clinton is the daughter of former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. While off-limits to the press during her father’s Presidency (when Chelsea was a teenager), the Clinton family has tried to continue to treat her as above political criticism even as she has entered adulthood and begun a political and celebrity career of her own.[1] [2]  This has drawn sharp criticisms from political reporters for her off-limits demeanor and unresponsive press posturing.[3]

Chelsea’s career has been largely marked by an apparent lack of professional focus. In 2017, one Clinton family associate labeled Chelsea an “overeducated underachiever.”[4] Moreover, her professional career has been seen as the product of cronyism whereby Chelsea landed a number of high paying jobs well above her apparent ability due to her famous last name and powerful connections. [5]

Chelsea has demonstrated her privileged upbringing, once stating that she “couldn’t care about money.” [6] She later took a position at her parents’ foundation, which was at one point renamed the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation. [7] Chelsea’s un-relatability and inexperience enabled by nepotism have been sharply criticized by her peers and subordinates.[8] For instance, in a hacked email, Clinton Foundation founder Doug Band blasted Chelsea as a dilettante and an “ungrateful daughter who was naïve about how what he called ‘Bill Clinton Inc.’ made its money, and how her own expensive lifestyle was funded.” [9]

In the wake of her mother’s defeat in the 2016 Presidential election, Chelsea has come to be the center of much speculation as to whether she will run for political office. [10]   A “self-described progressive,” [11] Chelsea has taken a far-left stance on a number of hot-button topics such as climate change, LGBTQ issues, and immigration[12] and has assumed an outspoken posture against President Donald Trump further fueling the political speculations that she will try to perpetuate the Clinton political brand. [13]

Early Life and Education

Chelsea Clinton was born in February 1980 while her father, Bill Clinton, was serving as Governor of Arkansas.[14] Chelsea was 12 years old when Bill was elected President of the United States.[15]

During her father’s eight-year Presidency, the Clintons attempted to create a significant privacy zone for Chelsea. [16] However, she still received substantial press interest: Of all presidential children preceding her, she received the most television coverage.[17]

In 1997, Clinton enrolled at Stanford University where she graduated with a Bachelors of Arts in History in 2001.[18] [19] She then attended Oxford University where in 2003 she received a Masters in philosophy.[20] In 2010, she completed her Masters in Public Health from Columbia University[21] and in 2011 got a doctorate in international relations again from Oxford .[22]

New York Socialite

Due to her family connections Chelsea Clinton has come to assume what one commentator called the “status of an American princess.”[23] This was perhaps most evident at Chelsea’s reportedly $5 million wedding.[24] But despite her ascendancy into public life, the Clinton family continues to treat Chelsea as “off limits” to the press corps. [25] Chelsea has also been criticized for shutting down and refuses to answer probing questions.[26] As a Time writer noted, “Much like her mother, Chelsea is a private operator, eschewing media attention except in controlled scenarios.”[27]

These days, Chelsea Clinton is a fixture in Manhattan’s celebrity-sphere attending theater performances, ritzy restaurants, charity galas, and A-list celebrity parties such as musician Timbaland’s birthday party and actor Matt Damon’s Caribbean vow renewal.[28]

Professional Career

Chelsea Clinton’s professional career has been marked by “internecine squabbles and suggestions of cronyism” due to the fact that she has landed jobs and corporate board positions with companies run by her parents’ rich supporters, some of whom also have invested in a hedge fund started by Chelsea’s husband, Marc Mezvinsky.[29]

Years later in a 2015 interview with the business magazine Fast Company, Chelsea Clinton courted controversy for expressing ambivalence toward money. She said, “I was curious if I could care about [money] on some fundamental level, and I couldn’t. That wasn’t the metric of success I wanted in my life.”[30]

Chelsea’s recent professional ascension into the spotlight has thus been criticized by former President Clinton associates labeling her an overeducated underachiever. “It bothers the shit out of me that everyone thinks she’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. She’s never had a job. She’s been in college for twelve years.”[31]

For instance, Clinton’s first position after college was with the consulting firm McKinsey & Company at a reported starting salary of $120,000 per year, equivalent to those with MBA degrees, despite having no business experience.[32] Clinton worked at McKinsey and Co. for three years.[33]

Hedge Fund Connections

In 2006 Chelsea Clinton took a job at Avenue Capital Group a $12 billion hedge fund founded by billionaire Clinton confidante Marc Lasry.[34] Lasry gave almost $400,000 to the Clinton Foundation and Hillary Clinton’s U.S. Senate and presidential campaigns[35] and had contributed more than $460,000 to Democratic candidates and party organs since the 1990s.[36] Lasry bundled nearly a million in campaign contributions for President Barack Obama and in 2014 had to remove his name from consideration to be the ambassador to France after his ties to an alleged Russian mobster emerged.[37]

Chelsea left the hedge fund to work on Hillary’s 2008 presidential campaign.[38]

Clinton’s work for the hedge fund became a political issue in 2016 while she campaigned on behalf of her mother who at the time had made reining in hedge funds a focus of her campaign and suggested that the hedge fund industry could lead to the next financial crisis.[39]

Clinton’s husband, Marc Mevinsky, co-founded the hedge fund Eaglevale Partners. The Washington Free Beacon reported that Chelsea’s husband brought in a large number of investors to his hedge fund “hoping to cash-in on the firm’s political connections” to the Clinton family.[40] In 2016, hacked documents revealed that Mezvinsky had “Chelsea Clinton make calls to set up meetings with potential investors,” and that Chelsea’s hedge fund employer Mark Lasry was assisting Chelsea’s husband in raising money for his new fund.[41]

In December, 2015 a watchdog group called for an investigation into Eaglevale Partners’ relationship with the Clintons claiming that while Hillary Clinton served as Secretary of State, she gave special government access to one of Chelsea’s husband’s Wall Street friends.[42] Moreover, Politico noted that Clinton Foundation donor Haim Saban, who was denied the ability to pay Bill Clinton as a consultant, instead opted to invest in Chelsea’s husband’s hedge fund instead.[43]

A month after Hillary Clinton lost her 2016 campaign for president, Chelsea Clinton’s husband shut down his hedge fund, which lost nearly $25 million betting on the Greek economy.[44]

Television Career

In 2012, after decades of dodging the press, Chelsea Clinton decided she wanted to work as a broadcast journalist and met with all the major networks. Those meetings, according to Buzzfeed, were painful. One executive said Chelsea and her team “acted like we should be grateful” that she was in the room. “There were ground rules,” said another executive, “what she could and couldn’t report, only good news.”[45]

Clinton eventually took a job with NBC News where as a “rookie correspondent” [46] she was paid a salary of $600,000.[47] The Washington Post’s media critic, Erik Wemple, speculated that Chelsea was only paid that amount because her last name was Clinton, noting that people from less-high-profile families earn far less even after years of work in the news business. [48] Moreover, Wemple’s analysis found that Chelsea published approximately 5% of the work of comparable correspondents during her time at NBC News. [49] Other Post analysis suggested that Chelsea left a lackluster impression with her feel-good “Making a Difference” segments.[50]

NBC producer Jay Kernis criticized Chelsea Clinton’s news broadcasting performance due to her sheltered upbringing saying, “People in television constantly interrupt each other. But when you are with Chelsea, you really need to allow her to finish. She is not used to being interrupted that way.” [51]

Clinton initially indicated that she would donate most of the money, however when pressed on the issue Clinton’s team refused to indicate whether or not she actually donated the money.[52]

Ultimately, the Washington Post report called the Clinton-NBC News arrangement an “Awful… affront to hard-working broadcast journalists”[53] that could taint the credibility of NBC’s future reporting on the Clinton family. [54]

Later, with her mother running for President in 2016, Chelsea became a paid speaker demanding a speaking fee of approximately $65,000 per hour, even to public universities.[55] In total, Chelsea gave nine paid speeches reaping up to $800,000 total, income that was purportedly directed to the Clinton Foundation.[56]

Clinton Foundation

Chelsea Clinton currently serves as the vice chair of the Clinton Foundation under her father President Bill Clinton, who had at one point renamed the foundation to include Chelsea and Hillary in its name.[57] In 2013, Chelsea ramped up her involvement with the main foundation entity seeking to overhaul perceived organizational deficits.[58]  She has largely focused her efforts on creating metrics that allow the foundation to track program impact, consolidating the foundation’s 2,200 employees, and she purportedly sought to implement professionalized organizational controls.[59]

But Chelsea Clinton’s foundation management tactics have been sharply criticized, a 2011 “housecleaning” decision sought by Chelsea to make the foundation more professional “set off a cascade of grievances, gossip and infighting as her ascendance diminished the longtime aides whom Mr. Clinton often referred to as surrogate children.”[60]

Hacked internal Clinton Foundation emails show the alleged reaction to Chelsea’s interventions. To Doug Band, a longtime Bill Clinton adviser instrumental in building the Clinton Foundation, Chelsea Clinton “seemed like a dilettante.”[61] Band emailed a 13-page missive to address concerns raised by Chelsea, of which “the subtext was clear,” Mr. Band saw Chelsea as “an ungrateful daughter who was naïve about how what he called ‘Bill Clinton Inc.’ made its money, and how her own expensive lifestyle was funded.” [62]

Band wrote in an email, “I just don’t think any of this is right and that we should be treated this way when no one else is, only because CVC [Chelsea Clinton] has nothing better to do and need justify her existence.” [63]

Moreover, Band “often expressed frustration at the global charity’s nepotism, pointing to Ms. Clinton’s installing her friends in central roles.” [64]

Other allegations of Chelsea interfering on behalf of her contacts have been made. For example, sources say, an investment firm got the inside track for a coveted contract to manage a $250 million foundation endowment because the firm was run partly by one of Chelsea’s best friends, Nicole Davison Fox (the matron of honor at Clinton’s lavish 2010 wedding) who also happened to be married to one of Chelsea’s husband’s hedge fund partners.[65] According to the reports, Chelsea’s friend had the inside track to the contract months before the foundation requested proposals to manage the endowment. [66]

Similarly, in July 2013 Chelsea recruited her friend Eric Braverman to become CEO of the Clinton Foundation. Braverman resigned the position a year and a half later as some of the changes he pursued with Chelsea Clinton’s support were seen as a dig at the old Clinton family hands who had created and grown the foundation.[67]

Chelsea reportedly “played a key role” in the foundation’s now-controversial decision to resume accepting foreign contributions. [68]Other criticisms of Chelsea at the foundation have come from rank and file employees who say that Chelsea is intimidating, awkward, and un-relatable.[69]

Other Professional Endeavors

In addition to her work at the Clinton Foundation, Chelsea Clinton is the co-chair of the Advisory Board of the Of Many Institute at NYU, is an adjunct professor at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, and serves on numerous boards including Barry Diller’s IAC (where she is reportedly paid $300,000 annually plus stock benefits),[70] the School of American Ballet, the Africa Center, Expedia, Clover Health, and the Weill Cornell Medical College.[71]

In 2015, she wrote a 400-page children’s book addressing leftist global policies, and in 2017 she “wrote a feminist book” titled She Persisted aimed at kids.[72]

Political Activism

Clinton’s personal political presence began during the 2008 election period when she worked as a campaign liaison on behalf of her mother Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.[73] She was dispatched to represent Hillary on the trail and claimed to have attended “more than 400 events in 40 states over the course of five months.”[74] During the 2008 campaign, Chelsea was noted for giving scripted performances and avoiding public questions, even avoiding a question from a 9 year old, because she refused to talk to the “press.”[75]

During her mother’s 2016 presidential campaign, Chelsea Clinton took on a larger role where was expected to be “in the center of the room and commanding an audience in a way she may not have wanted to eight years ago.”[76]

As Politico wrote in 2015, “The message was clear: Hillary Clinton is running—and running right along with her is Chelsea.”[77] Per Politico’s report, the “invisible hand of Chelsea” shaped almost every significant decision her parents made. [78] Chelsea acknowledged her role in Hillary Clinton’s decision-making saying, “We talk about everything,” and “have had kind of a conversation about what we think the challenges, the opportunities, the solutions are.” [79]

Left-Wing Ideals

Chelsea Clinton is a “self-identified progressive” who touts the fact that she embraced gay marriage before her parents.[80]

Chelsea Clinton supported her parents’ push for comprehensive immigration reform, [81] “opposes [President Donald Trump’s] travel ban, plan to build a wall on the southern border, and plan to deport illegal immigrants who reside in the U.S.”[82] Additionally, the Washington Free Beacon noted that Clinton is in fact more liberal on this issue than her parents.[83]

Chelsea opposes the repeal of Obamacare,[84] and promised to extend Obamacare to illegal immigrants “regardless of immigration status, regardless of citizenship status.”[85]

Clinton labeled climate change an “individual outrage” that was interconnected with women’s health and child marriage. [86] She has stated that we only have three years to get climate change “under control.”[87]

Chelsea Clinton has been most vocal about social issues. Chelsea Clinton believes “LGBTQ issues should be a major focus for human rights advocates this century.”[88] She has stressed “more progress in combating bullying of gay youths” and that political dialogue is insufficient.[89] Clinton has publicly thanked[90] and donated to[91] the controversial Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) for their “ongoing vigilance and shining a light” on alleged right-wing “hate.”[92] A vocal supporter of abortion, Clinton has also proclaimed that it is “important that people do everything they can to protect Planned Parenthood.”[93]

Electoral Ambitions

Chelsea Clinton has long been the focus of speculation about a potential political run for office.[94] In 2011, It was reported that Clinton was looking to run for the U.S. House of Representatives seat occupied by then-74-year-old Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), who was said to be retiring. Clinton denied seeking the seat and did not run.[95]

In 2013, Chelsea Clinton’s father, former President Bill Clinton, suggested Chelsea would be an ideal President, saying, “She knows more than we [Bill and Hillary] do about everything.”[96]

For years, when asked if she wanted to go into politics, the answer “was a resounding no. But Chelsea, now 34, doesn’t say no anymore.”[97] In 2017, it was reported that Clinton was again being speculated about for a potential Congressional or Senate run in New York.[98]

This speculation is only fueled by Chelsea’s increased political activism. Prior to the election of Donald Trump, Chelsea Clinton was noted for wonky Twitter posts didn’t make waves and similarly didn’t draw much if any attention.[99] But in 2017, “in the wake of Hillary Clinton’s devastating electoral loss,” [100] Chelsea Clinton seemed “to have had a social media personality transplant” becoming the most vocal Clinton, attacking President Trump in a number of different ways. Clinton supporters suggest was Chelsea’s first foray into constituency building[101] for a potential future political run.[102] She has attended at least two protests in New York City since the election: a rally protesting Trump’s immigration executive orders and a Muslim solidarity rally. [103]

References

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  2. “Chelsea Clinton.” Clinton Foundation. Accessed October 9, 2017. https://www.clintonfoundation.org/about/chelsea-clinton.
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  4. Callahan, Maureen. “God Help Us if Chelsea Clinton Runs for Office.” New York Post. Last modified February 25, 2017. http://nypost.com/2017/02/25/inside-chelsea-clintons-bold-new-political-persona/.
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Connected Organizations

  1. Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation (Non-profit)
    Vice Chair of the Board
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