Sri Lanka Express

Hillary’s latest corruption scandal involves American of Sri Lankan descent

This story has been updated (click here)
By Hassina Leelarathna
Nick Merrill, Clinton's traveling press secretary, issued the following statement.

"This was an unpaid, volunteer advisory board, and one of several foreign policy-focused organizations that he was involved with. As the State Department itself has said, the ISAB charter calls for
a diverse set of experiences for its members. That's all there is to it."
Mr. Rajiva Fernando
Who is Rajiv Fernando?

The Chicago commodities broker who has contributed millions to the Clinton Foundation and a hob--nobber of Washington elite is hardly known in
the Sri Lankan expatriate community.  Like some second-generation Sri Lankans, he has apparently kept his distance from his heritage. 

Rajiva Fernando comes from a privileged background.  He is one of three children born to Laura Mahnil Fernando (nee Sumanadasa) and
Dr. C. Kumarlal Fernando.  The couple moved to  New York in 1965 where
C.K. Fernando pursued graduate
study at NYU as a Fullbright scholar. 

Laura Fernando was an accomplished musician and reportedly won first place in the 1969 Open Piano Competition run by Radio Ceylon. 
The family moved to Chicago in 1974. 

Dr. Fernando was the chairman of “Sri Lankan Americans for Obama.”  A blog by that name has been on the web since 2009. 
Odd man out.  Rajiv Fernando (furthest left) in a State Department photograph showing the 2011 International Security Advisory Board.

Commodities trader Rajiv Fernando donated millions to the Clinton Foundation, was given a top spot on State Department’s nuclear advisory board

Emails reveal frenzied efforts by Hillary’s staff to cover up quid pro quo appointment of top donor
An American of Sri Lankan descent is at the center of a growing corruption scandal that accuses Hillary Clinton of appointing a totally unqualified person to a sensitive State Department security intelligence board only because he was a major donor to the Democratic Party and gave as much as $250,000 to the Clinton Foundation.  The scandal first publicized by ABC News is once again in the spotlight with details that have emerged from the latest set of Clinton emails released to the public.

ABC News reporting on the emails released as a result of an FOIA lawsuit from the conservative Citizens United said that Rajiv Fernando, a wealthy Chicago commodities broker who had no experience in the area, was given a spot on the State Department’s International Security Advisory Board in 2011.   ABC news raised questions with the State Department on the highly irregular appointment in August of that year.  The recently released emails show Secretary Clinton’s aides exchanging worried emails on how to present Fernando’s credentials in the best light.  Two days after the questions were emailed to the State Department, Fernando resigned from the Board.

"Members of State Department's International Security Advisory Board advise the country's most prominent figures on American nuclear strategy -- all have top secret security clearances. But in 2011, the Clinton State Dept. also added this man: Rajiv Fernando, a wealthy Chicago commodities broker with no known connections to the national security world. What he was known for... was raising dollars for Democratic campaigns. He gave as much as $250,000 to the Clinton Foundation," ABC's Brian Ross reported Friday morning (June 10).

ABC charged that while the rest of the International Security Advisory Board was filled with nuclear scientists, past Cabinet secretaries, and former members of Congress the only expertise Fernando brought to the table was “his technological know-how,” which apparently none of his fellow panelists seemed to find all that helpful.  One board member had told ABC that none of his colleagues could figure out why he was even there.

As a member of the top-level group, Fernando was granted a Top Secret security clearance and given access to highly sensitive information.

The emails provide embarrassing details of Clinton staffers scrambling to respond to ABC news producer Mathew Mosk’s questions about Fernando’s qualifications for the position.  Repeated references are made to ‘S’ which, according to ABC news, was a common way to refer to the Secretary of State.



In an email dated August 16, 2011, senior advisor for strategic issues, Richard Hartman tells Rose Gottemoeller, at the time an assistant secretary of state:

“ABC news producer Mathew Mosk called me late yesterday and I immediately referred him to Jamie Mannina.  He is asking questions about what led to Raj Fernando being appointed to the Secretary's International Security Advisory Board.  Jamie and I have notified press officers and ISAB membership to refer to us at the State Department at this point for any media queries on Mr. Fernando.  Mr. Mosk is asking for a short bio and a description of the process that led to our selection of Mr. Fernando for ISAB membership.  .. Jamie is rightly concerned that we must protect the Secretary's and Under Secretary's names, as well as the integrity of the Board.”


In 2012, ABC News approached Fernando at the Democratic convention -- Fernando became upset and asked how they knew who he was. "he became upset and we were threatened with arrest," Ross reported.

Since 2003, Fernando has contributed nearly $600,000 to the DNC and individual Democratic politicians, including $13,000 directly to Hillary Clinton’s campaigns.   Just before the infamous State Department appointment, Fernando had given between $100,000 and $250,000 to the William J. Clinton Foundation, and another $30,000 to a political advocacy group, Women Count, that is said to have indirectly helped Hillary Clinton retire her lingering 2008 campaign debts by renting her campaign email list.

To date, Fernando has donated $1 - $5 million to the Clinton Foundation, according to its website.
Fernando was also reportedly one of Obama’s top 2012 financial bundlers, raising at least $500,000 for Obama’s reelection bid.

Fernando’s influence with the Democratic elite has not waned since his departure from the ISAB. About six months after Fernando resigned from the State Department advisory board, he was invited to attend a White House State Dinner, honoring the British Prime Minister.  In May 2015, he hosted a fundraising dinner for Clinton at his Chicago home. This summer he will serve as a super delegate at the Democratic National Convention where, according to Chicago media reports, he has committed to supporting Clinton.
"It's natural to ask how he got onto the board when compared with the rest of the esteemed list of members."  Jamie Mannina in August 15, email (see below).
State Department's response: "Mr. Fernando chose to resign from the Board earier this month citing additional time needed to devote to his busiess." Email August 19 (see below)