Close Hillary Clinton aide, State Dept. inspector general in pay dispute

Story highlights

  • Huma Abedin was wrongly paid $9.857.73 for unused leave time, according to an audit of the inspector general
  • A lawyer for Abedin said the inspector general's report is "fundamentally flawed"

Washington (CNN)A close aide of Hillary Clinton is disputing she was overpaid almost $10,000 when she left the State Department and is asking its inspector general to reassess its findings, her lawyers told CNN.

Huma Abedin, who served for four years as deputy chief of staff for the State Department and is now a top official of her presidential campaign, was wrongly paid $9.857.73 for unused leave time, according to an audit of the inspector general. Abedin's lawyers were informed of the findings in May, but the controversy only became public on Friday after the Senate Judiciary chairman, Sen. Charles Grassley, referenced the pay dispute in letters to several officials.
But her lawyers maintain that during the leaves she did some work, and have asked for an administrative review of the finding that she refund the money to the government.
    "Ms. Abedin often worked seven days a week and around the clock for the Secretary and the Department. Given these facts not in dispute, there is no basis for the OIG (Office of Inspector General) to conclude that Ms. Abedin must refund her salary earned during those periods, as if she had not worked at all," Miguel Rodriguez, one of Abedin's lawyers with the firm Bryan Cave, wrote the Office of the Comptroller back in May after Abedin was informed of the request to repay the government.
    The inspector general's report has not been made public. Doug Welty, a spokesman for the inspector general, told CNN: "As a matter of policy, we neither confirm‎ nor deny the existence of investigations, nor do we comment on personnel matters."
    In particular, there are two periods of time the report looked at, according to Abedin's attorneys: an overseas vacation in August 2011 -- during which Abedin was working, her lawyers say -- and an almost three-month maternity leave after she gave birth in December 2011. Her lawyers wrote that Abedin was "working as she went into labor and returning to her duties shortly after (her son's) birth."
    Her lawyers told the government there was no effort at the time to calculate the amount of time she worked during those periods.
    "Huma Abedin is widely known as one of the hardest working and most dedicated public servants over the nearly two decades she served. The IG's report is fundamentally flawed, including contradicting its own conclusion by proving that Huma worked hard even while on maternity leave," Karen Dunn, one of Abedin's attorneys with the firm Boies, Schiller and Flexner, told CNN.
    "No hardworking, dedicated public servant should be subjected to irresponsible allegations based on a fundamentally flawed report and the State Department has undertaken a review of the report. Huma has been nothing but cooperative in helping the Department work through its record keeping issues, and she will continue to do so in the hope the right thing is done," Dunn added.
    Abedin departed the State Department in February of 2013 as Clinton left office.
    The controversy came to light after Grassley, R-Iowa, wrote letters this week to Secretary of State John Kerry, Inspector General Steve Linick and Abedin saying his panel had learned the inspector general opened an investigation involving Abedin.
    He asked for information about the report from the inspector general. Among the items he requested were all documents and communications relating to time and attendance, leave requests and compensation for unused leave. Grassley's panel has previously looked into Abedin's employment history, including several months when she also worked as a contractor in late 2012 and early 2013.
    In the letter to Kerry, he also wrote the inspector general was looking at "potential criminal conduct" by Abedin of possible "attendance fraud" but did not offer any information to back up that assertion.
    "There is no criminal investigation and never has been. To say otherwise is just patently false and needlessly inflammatory," said Rodriguez, Abedin's lawyer.
    The letters were first reported by The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.