Hillary’s appearance of conflict of interest
Remember when public officials were supposed to avoid even the appearance of conflict of interest? Somehow or other, Hillary Clinton, in the interval between her term as secretary of state and her planned presidency, managed to collect a substantial fortune ($21.6 million) speaking to groups, a large percentage of which had business before the federal government.
The Associated Press has conducted a review of her speaking fees and the groups ponying them up, and the results are eye-opening. Stephen Braun writes:
Most companies and groups that paid Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to speak between 2013 and 2015 have lobbied federal agencies in recent years, and more than one-third are government contractors, an Associated Press review has found. Their interests are sprawling and would follow Clinton to the White House should she win election this fall.
… almost all the 82 corporations, trade associations and other groups that paid for or sponsored Clinton's speeches have actively sought to sway the government — lobbying, bidding for contracts, commenting on federal policy and in some cases contacting State Department officials or Clinton herself during her tenure as secretary of state.
Almost all! That might explain the huge amounts paid to her. Is there anyone who regards her as a superb speaker? Some of the specifics are pretty startling, with substantial lobbying budgets accompanying the rich fees paid to her:
The National Association of Realtors spent $38.5 million on government contacts in 2013, the same year it paid Clinton $225,000 to appear at the group's gathering in San Francisco. A group spokesman said Clinton was among former U.S. officials invited to share their experiences but said she was not paid as part of its lobbying activities.
The Biotechnology Industry Organization, which represents biotech and pharmaceutical firms, spent between $7 million and $8.5 million annually on lobbying since 2008, including contacts with the State Department — during Clinton's tenure — on the agency's biotech discussions with foreign governments. The trade group, which hosted Clinton for $335,000 at its event in San Diego in June 2014, has won more than $425,000 in federal payments since 2008 in work for the National Science Foundation and other agencies. The group did not respond to phone calls or emails for comment from AP.
The financial services and investment industry accounted for about $4.1 million of Clinton's earnings. Its ranks included not only Wall Street powerhouses like Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and Bank of America Corp., but also private equity and hedge funds like Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. LP and Apollo Global Management LLC and foreign-owned banks such as Deutsche Bank AG and the Canada Imperial Bank of Commerce. Goldman Sachs, which gave Clinton $675,000 for three speeches in 2013, and Morgan Stanley, which paid her $225,000 for one speech the same year, both spent millions lobbying the U.S. during Clinton's term at the State Department.
I think Donald Trump has chosen well, settling on “Corrupt Hillary” as his trademark slur for her.