In addition to Yellen, Antony Blinken, Biden’s candidate for foreign affairs, announced the clients he had advised through WestExec Advisors, the consulting firm he founded with fellow Obama administration alumni. These clients included investment giant Blackstone, Bank of America, Facebook, Uber, McKinsey & Company, Japanese conglomerate SoftBank, pharmaceutical company Gilead, investment bank Lazard, Boeing, AT&T, Royal Bank of Canada, LinkedIn and the venerable Sotheby’s auction house.
The disclosures hit WestExec’s tight-knit customer list, which the company had not previously disclosed. WestExec paid Blinken nearly $ 1.2 million Over the past two years, according to the filing, an additional $ 250,000 to $ 500,000 was owed for his work this year.
Blinken has completed a term sheet to sell its stake in WestExec, which is disclosed to be valued at between $ 500,000 and $ 1 million. He also plans to sell his stake in WestExec Ventures, a sister venture capital firm. His stake in WestExec Ventures ranges from $ 1 million to $ 5 million.
Biden’s election as Director of National Intelligence, Avril Haines, was also a director and advisor at WestExec. Haines reported $ 180,000 in “consulting fees” from Palantir, a data mining company that has government contracts with agencies such as the US Immigration and Customs Service. The Silicon Valley-based company was founded by Peter Thiel, a prominent pro-Trump conservative in the tech world.
Haines’ biography at Brookings Institute, where she was a non-resident Senior Fellow, bragged about her palantir work until she began advising the Biden campaign that summer. The Intercept reported first.
One interim official said Haines was “primarily focused on that [Palantir’s] Efforts to promote diversity and inclusion, particularly to increase gender diversity ”and that she“ mentored some of the company’s remarkable young women and suggested ways the company could promote diversity and inclusion ”.
Yellen’s corporate profits could lead to more difficult problems. Along with their disclosure, Yellen promised to reach out to the Treasury Department’s ethics attorneys for “obtaining written authorization to personally and materially participate in a particular matter” involving a company they received compensation from last year would have.
Yellen last accepted speaking fees from Citi in October 2020, which means she would have to consult the department Ethics attorneys until October 2021.
While Yellen has been largely acclaimed by progressives so far, her multi-million dollar earnings from big banks are likely to raise questions about how close she is to Wall Street. Hillary Clinton faced political setback from the left during the 2016 campaign for making money from speeches on Wall Street after leaving the State Department.
A spokeswoman for Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Who criticized the “revolving door” between government officials and corporations, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The progressive Senator from Massachusetts previously described Yellen as an “excellent choice”.
The transitional officer defended Yellen’s speaking fees. “Look at their enforcement records – this is not someone who pulls a punch when it comes to bad actors or bad behavior,” the official said. “You can expect her to bring the same high ethical standards and strict enforcement philosophy to the Treasury Department.”
Victoria Guida contributed to this report.