Dr. Vanessa Kerry, second from right, watches her father being sworn in as secretary of state in 2013.
Dr. Vanessa Kerry, second from right, watches her father being sworn in as secretary of state in 2013. | wikipedia, the Commons

New evidence of insider deal at State Department

In a whirlwind of high-level meetings, Secretary of State John Kerry’s daughter was able to create and secure government funding for her nonprofit group in less than three months, according to a timeline developed by AMI Newswire based on official records.

During an 88-day period in 2011, Dr. Vanessa Kerry secured high-level meetings with State Department and Peace Corps officials, convinced them to create the new federal program and secured a pledge of State Department funding.

The funding was granted nearly a year later in the form of a no-bid contract.

In the years since, that non-profit group, now called Seed Global Health, has received $9 million in government funding. Touted as a “Peace Corps for doctors and nurses,” it helps place medical professionals in poor nations, including Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda.

The federal records regarding Dr. Kerry's contracts were uncovered and first reported by the Daily Caller News Foundation.

It raises new questions about insider deals and favoritism at the State Department. 

Dr. Kerry’s father was a U.S. senator in 2011. The secretary of state was Hillary Clinton, who has been plagued by allegations that she played favorites and cut insider deals while in office, providing access and performing favors for donors to her family’s foundation.

Although the wheels of government are notoriously slow, the timeline assembled by AMI from official records reveals that Dr. Kerry’s nonprofit was created and approved with rare speed.

Dr. Kerry incorporated the nonprofit on Aug. 22, 2011.

Three weeks later, on Sept. 16, 2011, she met with Eric Goosby, the State Department’s global AIDS coordinator, Buck Buckingham, the Peace Corps' director of global health and HIV, and Sarah Morgenthau, director of Peace Corps response. 

At the time, her father chaired the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, which oversees the State Department and the Peace Corps. 

Dr. Kerry pitched a program to be called the Global Health Service Partnership (GHSP). It would assist the Peace Corps in training medical personnel in countries with critical shortages of health-care providers, as a 2015 contract renewal stated.

Just two months later, on Nov. 18, 2011, Dr. Kerry learned that the public funding to start the GHSP had been secured in a meeting with Buckingham, Morgenthau and other top officials.

At no point was a contract put out to bid.

The funding came on Sept 10, 2012, when the Peace Corps gave Global Health Services Corps a $2-million, no-bid contract funded from the State Department.

Three years later, on Sept. 10, 2015 -- after her father had become secretary of state -- the Peace Corps granted Dr. Kerry’s non-profit, then renamed Seed Global Health, a four-year, no-bid contract extension that included $6.4 million in State Department funding, the contracts show.

At some point, the Peace Corps also added $859,808 to the previous contract to cover unanticipated costs.

To justify the no-bid contract extension in 2015, Marie McLeod, who had replaced Buckingham, wrote that the Peace Corps conducted market research and was “unable to identify any potential partners which satisfy the needs of the GHSP program.”

McLeod cited Seed Global Health’s “expertise” and “willingness to contribute the significant financial resources that are essential for the program to attract qualified volunteers each year.”

Yet some non-profit organizations older and more experienced in overseas medical training than Seed Global Health did offer similar services.

“There are a number of organizations that do it,” said Erin Coyne, program manager of Global Healing, a Berkeley, Calif., non-profit that trains medical professionals in Haiti, Honduras, the Republic of Georgia and Vietnam. It has trained surgeons in Georgia since 1996.

“There are certainly a number of organizations that do that kind of programming,” said Coyne, who added she is also a former Peace Corps volunteer. “We would love to be a part of something like that. We’re always happy to collaborate with other organizations to set up training. We already partner with a lot of organizations with professionals in other countries.”

Without commenting on the Seed Global Health contract specifically, Coyne said her organization would be interested in bidding on that type of work.

“I don’t know the specifics of that Peace Corps arrangement, so I don’t know if we’d be aligned with that specifically, but we would be open to that kind of collaboration if it were put out there.”

Asked how a newly formed non-profit won a no-bid contract and then a no-bid extension three years later, the Peace Corps issued the following statement:

“Peace Corps received a proposal from Seed Global Health (formerly Global Health Service Corps), which provided an excellent model for placing critically-needed volunteer physicians and nurses to academic and clinical training institutions in Africa -- consistent with Peace Corps’ mission. The cooperative agreement for this work was awarded in accordance with federal government standards. Peace Corps is proud of the continued work the agency has done to send qualified health professionals abroad to teach and expand clinical capacity.”

Seed Global Health did not respond to a request for comment.