Exclusive: With primary voting set to start next month, one of Hillary Clinton’s remaining hurdles is convincing Democratic voters that she is not beholden to Wall Street and other wealthy interests that have fattened her family’s bank account with tens of millions of dollars for paid speeches, writes Chelsea Gilmour.
By Chelsea Gilmour
Hillary Clinton is said to be buoyant over her prospects to become the next U.S. President, as Republicans feud over Donald Trump’s disruptive campaign and Sen. Bernie Sanders fails to articulate a clear foreign policy, but perhaps the biggest obstacle still confronting the ex-Secretary of State is her own record as a beneficiary of rich and powerful corporate interests.
“The truth is, you can’t change a corrupt system by taking its money,” says a Sanders’s television commercial. And Clinton has left herself open to that charge by profiting off her government experience, racking up $11.8 million in 51 speaking fees in the 14-month period from January 2014 to May 2015 before she became an official candidate for President, according to disclosure records.
For speeches usually lasting between 30 minutes and one hour, Clinton was paid from $100,000 to $335,000, an average around $230,000. Many of her paid speeches were delivered to Wall Street, Big Pharma, Tech and other industries with interests in influencing government policies.
Payments crossing the $300,000 mark came from Qualcomm Inc. ($335,000), the Biotechnology Industry Organization ($335,000), the National Automobile Dealers Association ($325,500), Cisco ($325,000), eBay ($315,000) and Nexenta Systems, Inc. ($300,000). Those amounts are each roughly equivalent to six times the typical American middle-class earnings in an entire year.
It’s true that the paid speaking circuit is a common stomping ground for former public officials. For instance, after leaving the Florida governorship and before running for President, Jeb Bush was compensated handsomely for his public speeches. During the same 14-month period between January 2014 and March 2015, Jeb made $1.8 million delivering 43 paid speeches in the U.S. and…