The Clinton Foundation quietly parted ways with its top fundraiser “earlier this year,” the foundation’s spokesman told The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group, while knowledgeable outsiders questioned why she was ever hired in the first place.
Danielle Stilz, whose official title since 2015 was chief development officer, is still listed on the foundation’s website, and the foundation has yet to publicly acknowledge the change in personnel.
Stilz, who now has the odd distinction of being at the center of two federal corruption investigations, also served from 2005 to 2007 as chief fundraiser for former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
The boyish-looking Democrat, who is more popularly known as “Blago,” is now serving a 14-year federal prison sentence on corruption charges, including 11 counts related to his attempt to sell then-President-elect Barack Obama’s former seat in the Senate.
Stilz testified at Blagojevich’s corruption trial that she left the governor, eventually thinking his fundraising goals “were unrealistic.”
She hit heavy weather again in the months since former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 presidential election to Donald Trump. The Clinton Foundation has announced no new major initiatives other than a wastewater and biomass project in the Seychelles, according to a review by TheDCNF.
Importantly, the foundation has delayed its normal first quarter 2017 contributions. As TheDCNF previously reported, in the fourth quarter of 2016, the foundation gained only five new donors.
A spokesman for the foundation told TheDCNF Sunday that Stilz left the foundation, but did not reveal when she left, the circumstances of her departure, or where she is currently employed. She was hired in 2012 as deputy to Dennis Cheng, who raised record sums for the Clinton group.
Stilz became development director in 2015 after Cheng resigned to join Clinton’s campaign as national finance director. Financial analyst and charitable expert Charles Ortel, who has closely studied the foundation, told TheDCNF that he was dumbfounded Stilz was hired at all.
“Given the degree under which the Clinton Foundation had been under scrutiny, how prudent was it of the trustees of the Clinton Foundation to hire this person in the first place?” Ortel asked, adding, “I think it’s indefensible decision to even consider this person for the foundation based on known facts.”
During Stilz’s tenure with Blagojevich, the investigation and trial revealed, the governor was caught shaking down executives for money in exchange for preferential treatment. She was also a contracting officer for Illinois state government contracts.
As a key aide in Blagojevich’s “inner circle,” Stilz was deputy director of his inaugural committee and then finance director for what would become the governor’s central “pay-to-play” operation, the “Friends of Blagojevich.”
Ortel believes Stilz had to be in on the discussions involving the sale of Obama’s seat.
“When the discussions began about selling Obama’s seat, this woman was perhaps the most important person in the room other than Blagojevich,” he said.
Stilz also testified that she attended many meetings with the governor in which she would review databases of contributors with him. “He had intimate knowledge of these numbers,” she testified. “He knew them better than I did.”
Blagojevich would call her with updates on donations from individuals, and, she testified, he “sometimes cursed and yelled when he felt a fundraiser was falling short.”
The Chicago Tribune reported she attended meetings with the governor up to a month before the FBI started to interview him.
This report, by Richard Pollock, was cross-posted by arrangement with the Daily Caller News Foundation.