Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s “No Ceilings” women’s empowerment project at the Clinton Foundation accepted a $5 million commitment last December from a Swiss billionaire even as his lawyers were fighting in federal court to hide his darkest secret – a long record of sexually abusing women.
The No Ceilings: The Full Participation Project is needed, according to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation, because “even today, persistent stereotypes and barriers keep women from equal access, representation, and compensation in our communities and around the world.”
Hansjorg Wyss, a generous donor to major liberal groups like the Center for American Progress and longtime financial patron of Clinton Campaign Chairman John Podesta, also launched a “Women’s Equality Program” at his $2.1 billion Wyss Foundation. His net worth is estimated at $6.1 billion.
At issue in the federal district court case was a $1.5 million settlement of a suit brought by Jacqueline Long, a Colorado woman who charged that Wyss brutally and sexually abused her for years while serving as his employee.
Long, a former development officer at the HJW Foundation, said she had to have sex with him in return for his grants to non-profits that focused on at-risk youth and sex trafficking, causes to which she was passionately devoted.
“He was not interested in these programs,” Long told the Daily Caller News Foundation in an exclusive interview. “He was only doing it in reward for my having sex with him. It was a tool for leverage.”
In the court pleadings, Wyss’s lawyers hinted at the severity of the sex abuse, stating, “The agreement at issue are (sic) both highly confidential and relate to extremely private matters.”
The Clinton Foundation repeatedly declined to respond to TheDCNF questions about the Wyss gift and the non-profit’s vetting process of its donors. Earlier this year, Charity Navigator, a philanthropy watchdog group, put the Clinton Foundation on its “watch list” for troubled non-profits.
Viveca Novak, the communications director for the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics, told TheDCNF the Wyss gift “does make one question what kind of vetting process the Clinton Foundation has in accepting donations.”
The Wyss Foundation also did not respond to TheDCNF telephone requests for comment.
Long is not the only woman to claim sexual abuse by Wyss. Diane E. Bailey, another former Wyss employee, filed a federal lawsuit against Wyss in 2000, charging that he created a hostile work environment for women at Synthes, then a U.S. subsidiary of a Swiss medical devices corporation. Wyss served as CEO at its U.S. headquarters in West Chester, PA. He was also Synthes’ major stockholder.
Bailey described an incident in which Wyss showed Synthes’ employees a slide show from a vacation and repeatedly pointed out pictures of male sex organs that were included.
Although Bailey lost her case claiming employment discrimination, the judge noted that the sexually offensive incidents she cited were “undisputed by the defendants.” The defendants included Wyss personally, his company and his foundations.
Wyss is no stranger to federal judges or prosecutors. In 2011, Synthes attorneys settled multiple criminal charges brought against it in 2009 by the Department of Justice after the firm conducted illegal spinal medical tests that killed four people on operating tables.
Wyss’s top four executives went to jail and his company was forced to pay $23 million in fines for violating the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. But Wyss was never indicted, even though he was named as “Person No. 7” in the original indictment, which said company memos showed Wyss authorized the tests to go forward without FDA approval.
Wyss sold Synthes to Johnson & Johnson for $21.3 billion in 2011, a transaction that was key to his now being ranked by Forbes magazine as the 204th richest man in the world.
Long said she was “shocked and devastated” when she learned of the Wyss contribution to the No Ceilings program that Clinton reportedly views as her signature achievement for women at the Clinton Foundation.
Long sent the Clinton Foundation a letter and supporting documents last December to warn the former secretary of state and first lady about Wyss. The envelope, which had been opened, was returned to Long. Written in bold on the outside were the words, “Will Not Accept.”
Russell Bryant, whose wife Joan died on the operating table while undergoing Synthes’ illegal operations and who is suing Wyss, among others, said he believed the Clinton Foundation was taking “dirty money.”
“His philanthropy is totally hypocritical. His motive for giving money is to cover up his bad behavior. I think the Clinton Foundation would accept anything from anybody and they close their eyes from where the money comes from,” he told TheDCNF.
Long’s relationship with Wyss began as a friendship, then progressed to jobs he arranged for her with his foundation and a California winery he owns.
At the foundation, Long supported Colorado groups devoted to two causes that were her passion, homeless youth and sex trafficking of women and girls.
The relationship deteriorated over time, however, as Wyss first pressured her to have sex, then advanced to physical and sexual abuse, according to Long.
Long filed a police report with the Morris Township Police Department on April 3, 2011, following an especially brutal sexual assault by Wyss at the Governor Morris Hotel when she tried to break off the relationship.
“He sexually assaulted me – me screaming no (to) stop it,” she wrote in her own hand writing in a statement to police that was obtained by TheDCNF.
She charged that he “almost suffocated me by putting his fist in my mouth. I struggled and pushed. I thought for sure he was going to kill me,” she wrote to police. She also charged he roughly penetrated her with a vibrator.
Long filed a 2012 EEOC complaint against Wyss, charging she “has been the victim of sexual harassment, a sexually hostile work environment, quid pro quo discrimination and sexual discrimination,” according to a copy of the complaint obtained by TheDCNF.
Prior to the final settlement of the case, M. Ryan DiMaria, Long’s attorney, warned Wyss lawyers in a May 8, 2013, letter that physical abuse was the key issue.
“The graphic allegations of sexual abuse, sadomasochism, and significantly unique fetish interests of Mr. Wyss have to be heard by the court,” DiMaria argued.
The four deaths caused by the illegal medical testing and the repeated allegations of sexual abuse of women contradict the carefully cultivated image of Wyss as a compassionate philanthropist. He is a major donor to 186 liberal groups, bestowing more than $132 million on them since 2002, according to his Form 990 filings with the IRS.
He gave $125 million to Harvard University to establish the Wyss Center for Biologically Inspired Engineering in 2009, the same year Synthes was indicted by the Justice Department. He doubled that contribution to $250 million in 2013.
The Wyss connection to Podesta included $6.2 million in contributions to the Center for American Progress. Podesta was CAP’s founding chairman, while Wyss was a member of its board of directors.
Podesta was President Bill Clinton’s White House chief of staff and was a special counselor on environmental issues to President Barack Obama. Podesta left the Obama White House to serve as chairman of Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Immediately prior to joining the Obama White House, Podesta served as a “consultant” to Wyss, receiving $87,000 in compensation.
Court documents show Wyss was obsessed with keeping the $1.5 million settlement with Long out of public records.
“Long and her counsel acknowledge that the confidentiality of this agreement is of the utmost importance and without their unequivocal commitment to keep this agreement and the negotiations preceding this agreement confidential, the defendants would not have entered into this agreement,” the Wyss attorneys said in the final settlement, a copy of which was obtained by TheDCNF.
Wyss was known for poor treatment of women during his years as CEO of Synthes. A former Synthes consulting surgeon who was a Wyss friend told TheDCNF that “their company was not known for being a company sensitive to women and women’s issues.”
“There were lots of dirty jokes. Any time you mentioned a ‘screw,’ there would always be a little giggle,” he said.
Another former Synthes employee said the entire executive floor was comprised of men except for one woman. All of the secretaries were women.
“When I was there, what I do know is that he would brag about screwing all the secretaries,” the former employee told theDCNF.
People who know Long said she remained at the foundation despite the abuse because she felt she was able to accomplish a greater good: helping groups committed to homelessness and sex trafficking.
At one point, Long turned to Wyss for financial aid for her daughter Callie, who suffered an ultimately terminal drug addiction. Long said Wyss gave her checks for her family following rounds of sex.
Anne Harris, a development director for Urban Peaks, a Colorado nonprofit that focused on youth homelessness, told TheDCNF Long secured Wyss funding for the group and “was very passionate. There was a personal desire to be connected to this mission.”
Harris said Long “invited us to come up to Boulder and was going to meet Hansjorg. I was really impressed with Jackie’s diligence and persistence because it wasn’t his [Wyss’s] priority. I, for one, was really grateful for her vision.”
Long said the pattern of abusive sex, then gifts was “very common behavior with Hansjorg,” Long said. “He does something horrific, then purges himself by giving to a foundation, tries to give you gifts.”
Tom Koby, a former chief of police in Boulder, Colo., said Long was key to helping law enforcement agencies focused on sex trafficking.
“She is, I believe, a little angel,” he told TheDCNF.
Koby became a Long confidant as her relationship with Wyss worsened. “She related to me that the relationship had not only deteriorated, but there developed some physical abuse,” he said.
“Part of why Jackie continued in the relationship with Hans was her passion about doing some good through these organizations,” Koby said.
“I just looked at Jackie and said, ‘look Jackie, if those things are happening, that’s evil at play,” he advised. “You need to get out of that relationship.”