In other words, maybe Bernie Sanders has a point. The Associated Press did some digging into the public records of Bill and Hillary Clinton and discovered that a significant part of their post-“dead broke” wealth came from the financial services industry. In fact, it would appear that revenues from speeches to the giants of that sector accounts for about a quarter of all their income after leaving the White House:
Hillary Rodham Clinton and husband Bill Clinton have made $35 million from 164 paid speeches to financial services, real estate and insurance companies since leaving the White House in 2001.
That’s according to an Associated Press analysis of public disclosure forms and records released by her campaign.
The campaign pushed back with a rather strange argument:
Her backers in the financial industry say they have little expectation her family’s personal profits will influence her policymaking, noting their own opposition to her plan to raise taxes on hedge fund and private equity gains known as carried interest.
“She and Bill were both government servants all of their life, and there was a set period of time when they could make money,” said venture capitalist Alan Patricof, a longtime Clinton fundraiser, of the Clintons’ paid speechmaking. “She had to maximize her earning potential.”
Er, that’s not entirely accurate. First off, the Clintons held federal offices between 1993 and 2013; Bill was President the first eight years, and then Hillary spent eight years in the Senate and another four as Secretary of State. The “set period of time” for making money overlaps almost entirely with their tenure as “government servants” after their White House period. As the AP analysis notes, the bulk of the cash came between 2009 and 2014, when the Clintons pulled in $26 million. Most of that ($17 million) came from Bill Clinton while Hillary was at State, and seems to have been about a third of his total speech income as approved by State during Hillary’s tenure.. As soon as they stopped being “government servants,” Hillary got a $14 million advance for her second memoir, Hard Choices, which turned out to be a very bad investment by Simon & Schuster.
So the “government servants” description hardly applies, nor was there a supposed firewall between their public office and their private exploitation of their access to power.
As for the claims of limited expectations by these backers, voters can draw their own conclusions. Just how entertaining is it to listen to Hillary Clinton talk? Is it $200,000 worth of entertainment for an hour? It’s also worth noting that much of this came long after Hillary’s supposed post-9/11 work for the financial services industry (which consisted of casting votes in the Senate), but squarely in the middle of the post-Great Recession period in which the industry tried to lobby Washington DC on regulatory efforts. Now, that near-collapse might have tarnished their reputations as titans of the investor class, but they don’t sink $35 million into a project without any expectations of profitable outcomes. It sounds as though these firms consider the Clintons too big to fail, or something.