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January 28, 2009
The definition of corruption
A politician is generally considered corrupt if he trades the influence of his office for money.
But what about spouses?
Bill Clinton pulled down $5.7 million in speaking fees last year – almost entirely from foreign sources, including nearly $2.1 million after news circulated that Hillary Clinton was in line for Secretary of State.
Former President Clinton’s globetrotting speaking tours and charitable activities were considered the major impediment to his wife’s confirmation. The Senate approved her nomination only after he agreed to voluntarily dial back his activities, partly by alerting ethics officials to any proposed foreign speaking arrangements.
A disclosure statement filed by Secretary Clinton highlights the tricky spot in which she may find herself going forward if her husband keeps up his money-making international travels.
In the last nine months of 2008, Bill Clinton made at least $150,000-a-pop speaking to groups in some of the very places where his wife now will now represent American diplomacy, from India to Kuwait to China to Malaysia. In fact, the latter three speaking stops came in the last month-and-a-half of the year, as the Clinton and Obama camps were hammering out the agreement under which President Obama ultimately offered Hillary Clinton the job as top diplomat.
The National Bank of Kuwait paid Bill Clinton $350,000 for a Nov. 16 speech, while Hong Kong’s Hybrid Kenetic Automotive Holdings shelled out $300,000 for a talk Dec. 4 and a Malaysian foundation paid $200,000 for Clinton to speak the very next day in Kuala Lumpur.
This is so sleazy I feel like taking a bath after reading it. Even if Hillary never acts in such a way as to show favor to these nations, the fact that there was a belief on the part of those nations who paid Bill Clinton that some kind of consideration would be granted stinks.
You could say "What else would you expect from the Clintons," and you'd be right. On the other hand, it makes the US look like a banana republic to have the husband of our secretary of state gallivanting around the world with his hand out and the unspoken promise of influencing a high level member of the American government in exchange for whopping speaking fees.