Bill and Hillary Clinton have made $25 million from speeches alone since January 2014, according to financial disclosures they filed pursuant to federal law. During this period, they made a combined total of 104 speeches — 3.25 speeches a month each.
No one who has been paying attention will be shocked by these numbers. However, plenty of folks who haven’t paid attention may be put off by them when they are highlighted by Hillary Clinton’s Republican opponent (assuming the Democrats nominate her).
To me, though, the most interesting aspect of the disclosure is the extent to which Hillary Clinton’s speaker fees came from companies with large amounts of money riding on government decisions. In these instances, Hillary wasn’t speaking to college students at the expense of the university. She was speaking to corporations that had no reason to pay to hear her other than the desire to curry favor with a strong presidential contender.
Vox Politics reports:
During Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State, Corning [the upstate New York glass titan] lobbied the department on a variety of trade issues, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The company has donated between $100,000 and $250,000 to her family’s foundation. And, last July, when it was clear that Clinton would again seek the presidency in 2016, Corning coughed up a $225,500 honorarium for Clinton to speak. . . .
The $225,500 speaking fee didn’t go to help disease-stricken kids in an impoverished village on some long-forgotten patch of the planet. Nor did it go to a campaign account. It went to Hillary Clinton. Personally.
This is just the tip on the iceberg:
Corning’s in good company in padding the Clinton family bank account after lobbying the State Department and donating to the foundation. Qualcomm and salesforce.com did that, too. Irwin Jacobs, a founder of Qualcomm, and Marc Benioff, a founder of salesforce.com, also cut $25,000 checks to the now-defunct Ready for Hillary SuperPAC. Hillary Clinton spoke to their companies on the same day, October 14, 2014. She collected more than half a million dollars from them that day, adding to the $225,500 salesforce.com had paid her to speak eight months earlier.
And Microsoft, the American Institute of Architects, AT&T, SAP America, Oracle and Telefonica all paid Bill Clinton six-figure sums to speak as Hillary Clinton laid the groundwork for her presidential campaign.
That’s not all.
There’s a solid set of companies and associations that had nothing to do with the foundation but lobbied State while Clinton was there and then paid for her to speak to them. Xerox, the Biotechnology Industry Organization, and the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, in addition to Corning, all lobbied Clinton’s department on trade matters and then invited her to earn an easy check.
These revelations differ from those pertaining to the Clinton Foundation. As Vox’s Jonathan Allen explains:
The latest episode in the Clinton money saga is different than the others because it involves the clear, direct personal enrichment of Hillary Clinton, presidential candidate, by people who have a lot of money at stake in the outcome of government decisions. . . .
There’s a reason government officials can’t accept gifts: They tend to have a corrupting effect. True, Hillary Clinton wasn’t a government official at the time the money was given. But it is very, very, very hard to see six-figure speaking fees paid by longtime political boosters with interests before the government — to a woman who has been running for president since the last time she lost — as anything but a gift.
This time, says Allen, the story is about Hillary Clinton having her pockets lined by the very people who seek to influence her. Not in some metaphorical sense. She’s literally being paid by them.”
Thus, the Clintons and their apologists cannot respond to the latest revelations by citing good work done by the Clinton Foundation. However, they can say that, given the timing, Hillary cannot yet have been influenced in making any decision by the speaking fees. She has been out of office during the relevant time period.
By contrast, Schweizer’s information permits the reasonable inference that large donations from shady foreign interests influenced Clinton’s decisions as Secretary of State. The inference can be drawn from (1) the fact of the contribution and (2) Clinton’s subsequent change of a position on matters of interest to the contributor.
But even without the possibility that Clinton has yet been influenced by speaking fees received from companies that want to lobby her, these fees may be problematic for Clinton, And not just because they undermine her efforts to paint herself as in touch with everyday Americans (her term).
Corporate America obviously believes it can influence Hillary Clinton by lining her pockets. This should make it difficult for “everyday Americans” to have faith that she will be their “champion.”