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Ex-Clinton adviser Declan Kelly consulting on Boeing CEO search: ‘Doesn’t know planes, but he knows disasters’

Former Hillary Clinton adviser Declan Kelly has been quietly helping troubled manufacturer Boeing as the company faces a slew of safety concerns, The Post has learned.

Kelly who resigned from his consulting firm Teneo in 2021, after accusations of inappropriately touching six employees at a charity event had been advising former Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun on his communications strategy for the last two years, sources told The Post. 

Now Kelly is working with the Boeing board of directors to find Calhouns replacement.

Sources said they are baffled by that decision.

The many major issues Boeing experienced since 2020 on Calhouns watch forced him to resign effective at the end of 2024, one Boeing insider told The Post. That the person who helped him in that role would help find his successor is madness.

“Boeing already has trust issues people are afraid to get on Boeing planes, said another source who has known and worked with Kelly for years. Its the worst thing they could do.”

Kellys former client, General Electric CEO Larry Culp, introduced him to Calhoun early in the latter’s tenure as CEO, a source with direct knowledge told The Post. The two began working on Calhouns communication strategy.   

Calhoun, who stepped down as CEO last month, did try to show transparency as CEO.

“We have a communications task with all of our customers,” Calhoun said earlier this year, in an effort to acknowledge Boeing’s missteps. Were going to approach this, No. 1, acknowledging our mistake. We’re going to approach it with 100% and complete transparency every step of the way.

But that strategy wasn’t enough to salvage Calhoun’s rocky tenure  particularly after a door panel blew off a Boeing plane, forcing an emergency landing, on an Alaska Airlines flight from Portland, Ore., to Ontario, Calif., in January.

People close to Boeing say it is strange that Kelly would stick around after Calhoun was ousted. But they note the decision happened around the same time that Kellys longtime client Steve Mollenkopf who had served on Boeing’s board since 2020 was appointed as the board’s chair.

Mollenkopf, the former CEO of Qualcomm, is also a special adviser at Kellys new consulting firm, Consello.

Boeing, Consello, Kelly and representatives for Culp did not respond to requests for comment.

Kelly is Irish and had moved to the US in 2001 after a career as a journalist and PR executive in his native country.

In 2007, Kelly joined Hillary Clintons presidential campaign as an adviser and became a trusted counselor to both the candidate and her husband, former President Bill Clinton.

After Hillary Clinton lost and became secretary of state under President Barack Obama, she appointed Kelly as economic envoy to Northern Ireland in 2009.

Around this time, he also created a new consulting firm that would later become Teneo founded in 2011 with Doug Band, Bill Clintons former body man-turned-gatekeeper.

The consulting firm advised C-suite executives on strategy and communication, and Kelly and Band’s deep political ties helped them nab Bill Clinton and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair for its advisory board which, in turn, helped bring in massive fees for consulting services and clients including General Motors, Coca-Cola and Dell.

The Post previously reported how Kelly was able to arrange meetings with the Clintons and even got one of his clients, Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris, onstage with Obama 13 times in one year.

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Bill Clinton stepped down from the role in 2012 after facing scrutiny and the Clintons have since cut ties with Kelly.

After he was accused of sexual misconduct at a VIP fundraiser Global Citizen event in May 2021 and left Teneo, Kelly’s future as an adviser to blue-chip companies appeared to be in jeopardy.

The 56-year-old acknowledged the incident as an inadvertent, public and embarrassing mistake and added he apologized to those directly affected, as well as [to] my colleagues and clients.

Months later, he launched Consello and managed to sign Tom Brady and Serena Williams as partners.

Some say they arent shocked that Kelly managed to find his way into Boeing.

“I don’t think he knows about planes, but he knows about disasters,” one source who has known Kelly for years told The Post. “He’s a great salesman, though, so I can understand how he got the job.” 

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