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Could State Department woes tarnish Hillary Clinton’s image?

A brewing scandal that potentially suggests some degree of State Department mismanagement during Hillary Clinton’s tenure could hurt not only her legacy, but also prospects for a 2016 presidential bid, some say.

By Staff writer / June 12, 2013

In this Feb. photo, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton laughs as she gives a speech during a ceremony honoring her at the Pentagon in Washington.

Jacquelyn Martin/AP

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Washington

A brewing State Department scandal over allegations of stymied investigations into cases of diplomatic sexual misconduct could end up most hurting someone who isn’t even in the department anymore: Hillary Rodham Clinton.

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With some recent polls suggesting that the former secretary of State’s stellar standing with the public has been hit by continuing attention to last September’s deadly terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, another scandal that suggests some degree of State Department mismanagement during Mrs. Clinton’s tenure could hurt not only her legacy, but also prospects for a 2016 presidential bid, some political analysts and former State Department officials say.

The State Department – since February under the stewardship of Secretary of State John Kerry – insists that all cases of alleged improprieties are fully investigated and calls suggestions of quashed inquiries “preposterous.” If the “scandal” ends up being a tempest in a teapot, some say, Clinton could emerge unscathed.

The alleged cases of diplomatic misconduct and quashed investigations range from charges that a US ambassador in Europe evaded security detail to engage the services of prostitutes, to charges that members of Clinton’s advance security team purchased such services while on foreign assignment.

Other accusations include existence of a “drug ring” near the US Embassy in Baghdad that supplied drugs to State Department security contractors, as well as claims of serial sexual assaults by a department security official in a string of overseas assignments.

What seems clear is that Republicans have no intention of leaving the latest charges of mismanagement in the Clinton State Department alone.

The Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Ed Royce of California, said he is “appalled” by “reported interference in the investigations” into alleged misconduct, and he called on Secretary Kerry to deliver a full explanation of the allegations.

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