The Washington Post reports that Bill Clinton made millions of dollars through an “honorary” job with a for-profit education firm. This doesn’t strike me as problematic. If a company thinks the Bill Clinton name is worth millions to it, why not pay the millions? And, if you’re Bill Clinton, why not accept them?
But here’s the rub: Hillary Clinton used her position as Secretary of State to help cement the relationship. The Post says:
The guest list for a private State Department dinner on higher- education policy was taking shape when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton offered a suggestion.
In addition to recommending invitations for leaders from a community college and a church-funded institution, Clinton wanted a representative from a for-profit college company called Laureate International Universities, which, she explained in an email to her chief of staff that was released last year, was “the fastest growing college network in the world.”
There was another reason Clinton favored setting a seat aside for Laureate at the August 2009 event: The company was started by a businessman, Doug Becker, “who Bill likes a lot,” the secretary wrote, referring to her husband, the former president.
At the time Bill was not on the Laureate payroll. Soon thereafter, he would be:
Nine months later, Laureate signed Bill Clinton to a lucrative deal as a consultant and “honorary chancellor,” paying him $17.6 million over five years until the contract ended in 2015 as Hillary Clinton launched her campaign for president.
The Post goes on to say that “there is no evidence that Laureate received special favors from the State Department in direct exchange for hiring Bill Clinton.” But it had already received a favor from Hillary’s State Department before it retained Bill. As the Post explains:
Being included at the 2009 dinner, shoulder to shoulder with leaders from internationally renowned universities for a discussion about the role of higher education in global diplomacy, provided an added level of credibility for the business as it pursued an aggressive expansion strategy overseas, occasionally tangling with foreign regulators.
“A lot of these private-education guys, they’re looking to get into events like this one,” said Sam Pitroda, a higher-education expert who was representing a policy commission from India at the State Department dinner. “The discussion itself is irrelevant. . . . It gets you very high-level contacts, and it gets you to the right people.”
In other words, by causing the Laureate to get the invitation, Hillary did it a huge favor and demonstrated very concretely to Becker, its head, the value of a Clinton connection. Becker then offered Bill the multi-million dollar gig.
I need hardly add that Laureate is also a generous contributor to the Clinton Foundation. It has donated between $1 million and $5 million, and made millions of dollars of commitments through the Clinton Global Initiative, according to the Post.
In 2009, Hillary said that Bill likes Becker “a lot.” You can bet that he likes Becker a lot more now.