Bill Clinton’s Body Man Is a Pathetic, Greedy GrifterS

Yesterday, The New Republic published a mammoth profile of Doug Band, Bill Clinton's longtime body man and all-purpose Clintonland gatekeeper, a 40-year-old Floridian-turned-New Yorker with a taste for luxury. Senior writer Alec MacGillis describes how Band, from his toehold as a gofer and coat-holder, shamelessly traded on his access to the former President to amass millions of dollars, an enormous Manhattan apartment, and cushy appointments on corporate boards. The piece documents and perhaps implements the rest of the Clinton family's desire, after all these years, to get him out—presumably before he can damage Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential prospects.

MacGillis’ piece more or less answers what that breathless but otherwise insubstantial New York Times investigation into the Clintons’s charitable activities was actually about: namely, how exactly dozens of individuals extracted money from the Clintons’ celebrity-studded philanthropy. The answer, MacGillis makes clear, is Doug Band.

It was Doug Band, for instance, who arranged for the Italian expat Raffaello Follieri (another grifter who dated Anne Hathaway before being jailed for money laundering charges) to donate $50 million to the Clinton Global Initiative pledge $50 million to the healthcare of poor Americans (and announce the pledge through the Clinton Global Initiative), on the condition that another Clinton buddy, the grocery chain billionaire Ron Burkle, would invest in Follieri’s own venture, allegedly devoted to developing “some of the Catholic Church’s choicest North American properties, to help the church pay off bills associated with its sex-abuse scandals.” Follieri never came up with the donation, but not before Burkle threw in $105 million to Follieri’s church venture, and Band captured a $400,000 finder’s fee. (Band claims he later returned the fee.)

MacGillis’ Band is a tragicomic figure, slavishly entranced by the comfort and status enjoyed by the investor class that populated his boss’s post-White-House world. Per MacGillis:

  • “[Band] had a canny method of landing a table at the most exclusive spots, says [a] former White House colleague. He would make a reservation for “President Clinton” and then arrive with his own entourage—and no Bill.”
  • “It was Band, not Clinton, who insisted on frequenting luxury hotels and restaurants on the road. ‘[Clinton] could stay in the Motel 6—he doesn’t care, he’s from Arkansas!’ [an] associate says. But for Band, ‘it has to be the Bellagio.’”

The profile is humiliating, almost painful to read at times. The piece opens with Band essentially tricking various luminaries—among them George W. Bush, Harvey Weinstein, Tony Blair, and Sean Parker, who had gathered in New York to listen to Bill Clinton speak—into watching a sales pitch for his own company. It details how, around the time White House staffers were trying to neutralize Monica Lewinsky, Band himself escorted Lewinsky to the White House Congressional Ball.

Yet Band seems to thrive on his devoted servitude to the Clintons. According to MacGillis, Band constructed an elaborate vanity wall in his Midtown apartment, visible to every guest, devoted mostly to his adventures with Bill. “Band and Clinton were so inseparable,” he adds, “that Band sometimes framed requests to colleagues using the royal ‘us’ or ‘we.’” Given multiple opportunities to strike out on his own, often for much more money Band always chose to stay where he knew he was needed: carrying Clinton’s bags across the tarmac, glued to the background of people more important than him.

It’s all so sad.

And now the Clinton family, understandably, is working to distance themselves from Band, who is currently occupied with his consulting/banking/PR firm, Teneo Holdings. Too bad that, then, that the entire appeal of Teneo appears to be...Band’s connection to the Clintons. “Some Clinton aides and foundation employees,” the Times reported in August, “began to wonder [in 2011] where the [Clinton Foundation] ended and Teneo began.”

It’s a good question that, given Hillary Clinton’s 2016 ambitions, requires an even better answer.

[Photo credit: Associated Press, Teneo Holdings]