The biggest share of Ms. Haines’s income came from Columbia University, which paid her more than $440,000 to help run an international research project and to lecture at the university’s law school. She also was paid $150,000 to consult for the applied physics lab at Johns Hopkins University, and nearly $55,000 to consult and make introductions for WestExec Advisors, the firm Mr. Blinken helped found.
Mr. Blinken, who served as deputy secretary of state in the Obama administration, formed WestExec Advisors about eight months after he left office with three other Obama administration officials.
The firm, which takes its name from the small street that runs between the West Wing of the White House and the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, was hired by clients looking for advice in navigating the federal government. The firm also paired with venture capital funds that helped companies it advised expand to take on federal contracts or other new work.
Mr. Blinken’s disclosure forms show that he worked with 17 WestExec clients, including Microsoft, Uber, AT&T, FedEx, LinkedIn, the Japanese conglomerate SoftBank, the pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences and McKinsey & Company, the global consulting firm.
WestExec said in a statement after Mr. Blinken emerged as the likely secretary of state pick that he helped business leaders “make the best decisions in a complex and volatile international landscape.”
Mr. Blinken also publicly defended tech companies, while Facebook was a client of WestExec. When tech companies came under fire for failing to adequately fight disinformation during the 2016 election — including Facebook posts that were part of a Russian effort to boost Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign — Mr. Blinken said the blame should be directed primarily at Russia.
Tech platforms “have to do better to defend against malicious actors, but let’s not lose sight of the forest for the trees: The problem is Russia and other actors who use our openness against us, not the platforms,” Mr. Blinken said in an interview with Fast Company published in October 2017. “The biggest mistake we can make is to get into a circular firing squad with government and the tech companies,” Mr. Blinken told the publication, which identified him as an adviser to both Facebook and Alphabet, the parent company of Google.