Over the negative din of politics, it can be hard to hear what’s positive. Hillary Clinton has given $17.6 million of her speaking fees to charity (see below). That’s 26 times as much as she made on her three Goldman-Sachs speeches combined, or 50% more than she made on her 51 speeches in 2014 and 2015. Before presenting the details, let me summarize.
- Her fees were not the least bit unusual given her stature.
- Over 100 lesser known Americans are also in the $200,000+ category.
- The Goldman Sachs fees were below her average fee.
- She gave $17.6 million of her speaking fees to charity.
- Charging Goldman Sachs less would have just meant more profits for them and less for charity.
There is simply no evidence, or logic, supporting the idea that she would sell out her whole career and deceive her huge base of supporters with a fake proposal to rein in Wall Street (a proposal that Elizabeth Warren supports). That she would do all this in return for three below-average fees from Goldman Sachs is beyond absurd.
Now take a quick look at a talk at Goldman Sachs, or at civil-rights-leader John Lewis talking with the CEO of Goldman, or the CEO of the NAACP or LGBT Professionals speaking at Goldman. Obviously Goldman hopes for good publicity and the speakers hope to influence Goldman. If you’re looking for conspiracies, this is a very silly place to look for them.
Many seem to think the highest possible legitimate speaking fee couldn’t be over $10,000, and anything higher must be a bribe. But looking at the list below, it’s obvious no one is bribing Charlie Rose, Lady Gaga or Larry the Cable Guy, or any of the other 120 people who get paid $200,000 or more per speech.
|$50,000||Charlie Rose||TV talk show host|
|$80,000||Malcolm Gladwell||Author: Blink, and Outliers|
|$100,000+||Bill Maher||Left commentator MSNBC|
|$150,000||Condoleezza Rice||Sect. of State, W. Bush|
|$200,000+||Jerry Seinfeld||Comedian, actor, writer|
|$200,000+||Hillary Clinton||Sect. of State, Obama|
|$200,000+||Lady Gaga||Singer & empowerment speaker|
|$200,000+||Larry The Cable Guy||Radio personality, comedian|
|$400,000||Ben Bernanke||Ex-Fed chairman, Bush, Obama|
Some will skim this page, see it supports Hillary, and make unsupported accusations. But it is unfair to Hillary to let such false claims go unchallenged, and it is tearing the Democrats apart.
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Now to the details and documentation. Such speakers use an agency to find and negotiate their speaking engagements, although they obviously have the last word. Hillary used at least two agencies, tinePublic Inc in Canada and the Harry Walker Agency in the US. Here’s a list of her 51 talks since Jan 2014, with the average and total at the bottom.
Goldman paid her $225k in 2013, about $10k less than the average in the list above, and the lowest fee paid in 2013.
It would be foolish to try to bribe someone with a slightly low-ball payment for services. And of course there is a far simpler explanation: She was just earning money by giving speeches. Money for her expenses (sure she lives well, but she also works incredibly hard), for the campaign and for her Foundation. End of theory. We’d all love to win the lottery, and she won a decent sized lottery—the speaking-fee lottery. So she cashed in her winning ticket. Wouldn’t we all?
Salon’s Ultimate Moralistic Nonsense
Salon ran an op-ed headlined “Hillary Clinton’s artful smear.” The op-ed, to its credit, never suggests any smear, artful or not, by Hillary. I suppose it’s now politically correct at Salon (which writes the headlines) to bash Clinton.
Also to the op-ed’s credit, it quotes Clinton: “You will not find that I ever changed a view or a vote because of any donation I ever received,” and notes, “and there is no evidence to the contrary.” Instead, this is the op-eds’ point:
Salon: It was not nice of Hillary to take that $675,000 from Goldman Sachs, because that is “lost savings and lost homes for bilked investors.”
Really? If she’d spoken for free, GS would have donated that money to the investors they bilked? Does Salon think GS has turned into a sort of Big-Bucks Salvation Army?
OK, time for Econ 1. Corporations are for profit. Give one $100, and their profit goes up by $100. They do two things with profits. Pay them to shareholders, and use them to make more profits. That’s call cap-it-al-ism. If Hillary charges less, their shareholders get richer.
The “give it back” crowd is being idiotic. If those with money to burn pay you too much and you give it back, they just burn it for something else. The best you can do is take as much money as possible from Goldman—50 times more if you can get it—and spend that money on something better than Goldman’s shareholders would. Duh.
Clinton spends the money three ways: for her own expenses (which are high partly because she’s running for office), on her election campaign ($468,037), and on the Clinton Foundation, 89% of whose funding goes to charity (an excellent track record).
According to the Washington Post, Bill Clinton has contributed speaking fees to their foundation 73 times and Hillary Clinton 15 times. Hillary’s contributions include one address to Goldman and another to JP Morgan Chase. In total, Hillary donated something over $17.6 million. Contrary to what you may have heard, their foundation is highly efficient with only 11% overhead, and has provided $2,000 million dollars to the poor and needy.
Their foundation projects include training African farmers to get access to seeds, equipment and markets for their crops, reforestation projects in Africa and the Caribbean, renewable energy projects in island nations, and work to lower the cost of HIV/AIDS medicine and scale up pediatric AIDS treatment. And here’s a picture from Oakland (next door to me) from the Clinton Foundation’s “Too Small to Fail” project.