As chief of staff and counselor to Hillary Clinton at the State Department, Cheryl D. Mills worked ceaselessly to help a South Korean garment maker open a factory in Haiti, the centerpiece of United States government efforts to jump-start the island nation’s economy after the 2010 earthquake.
Ms. Mills took the lead on smoothing the way for the company, Sae-A Trading, which secured millions of dollars in incentives to make its Haiti investment more attractive, despite criticism of its labor record elsewhere. When she presided over the project’s unveiling in September 2010, she introduced Sae-A’s chairman, Woong-ki Kim, as the most important person at the ceremony, which included Mrs. Clinton and the Haitian prime minister.
Mr. Kim would later become important to Ms. Mills in a far more personal way — as a financial backer of a company she started after leaving the State Department in 2013. The company, BlackIvy Group, is pursuing infrastructure projects in Tanzania and Ghana, the only African nations in the “Partnership for Growth,” an Obama administration initiative that Mrs. Clinton helped introduce that promotes investment in developing countries.
The partnership with Mr. Kim sheds light on the business activities of Ms. Mills — a longtime Clinton loyalist who is likely to play a significant role in any future Clinton White House — as well as the interlocking public and private relationships that have long characterized the Clintons’ inner circle. A lawyer, Ms. Mills has been a target of Republican critics for her central role in determining which emails from Mrs. Clinton’s private server would be publicly disclosed, and for sharing information about Africa — later designated as classified — with the Clinton Foundation while working at the State Department.