So a politician, a lobbyist and a journalist walk into a bar

Legal Insurrection popped up with another tidbit from the recent document dump of campaign finance reports which came out on Friday. This one caught my attention because it involved not only Hillary Clinton, but a company located fairly close to me… Corning, a major manufacturer of glass and ceramics located in upstate New York. The company has a keen interest in foreign trade deals and stays involved in lobbying efforts to expand them

But they also keep a close eye on politicians who may be involved in such decisions, or so it seems. During Clinton’s tenure at the State Department they lobbied the agency heavily regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership. In what I’m sure is a totally unrelated coincidence, they also donated somewhere between $100,000 and $250,000 to the Clinton Foundation. Nothing all that unusual there, at least compared to what we’ve seen from other companies and governments. (And, er… journalists at ABC.) But last year it went a step further. Jonathan Allen (yes, I know it’s Vox, but…) points out the key factor.

[L]ast 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.

In the laundry-whirl of stories about Clinton buck-raking, it might be easy for that last part to get lost in the wash. But it’s the part that matters most. 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 isn’t the biggest speaking fee that Hillary Clinton ever received, nor will it be the last one we hear about in this context, I’m sure. But it’s notable that such an active lobbying entity who had specifically been pushing the State Department on a critical trade issue currently under debate was laying out those sorts of donations to the foundation. When you add in that nearly quarter million dollar speaking fee which went directly into Hillary Clinton’s purse – as opposed to curing AIDS or whatever – the the smoke is getting pretty thick on the ground, even if you haven’t seen the actual fire yet.

As Legal Insurrection asks:

With the added evidence of speaking fees as another form of Clinton payola, Hillary and the Clinton Foundation have some questions to answer. Among them: what did these companies expect in return for the out-sized “speaking fees” and did they have cause to believe that their “investment” would pay off in some real way in a Clinton administration?

At this point, since there likely never will be any “smoking gun” found, it’s not a question of what did you know and when did you know it. It’s more a case of, who did you get paid by and what did they expect?