If you’re interested in watching how money influences politics, you would be smart to not only track who Hillary accepts campaign contributions from, but just as importantly who is lining Bill’s pockets as well.
In looking ahead to a likely presidency from Hillary, we can take cues from the actions of the married duo during her stint as the secretary of state. While Hillary made critical national decisions that could win or cost certain major corporations millions of dollars, Bill kept a busy schedule of delivering speeches for many of these same companies, collecting hefty speaking fees for his talks.
Although it plainly ventures into unethical territory, federal rules did not preclude Bill from cozying up to these corporations. Normally, politicians and their spouses can’t accept money from companies that are lobbying the government, but an exception is made for payments for speaking to the companies. Given his resume, Bill can easily fetch top speaking fees without raising the kind of red flags that other political spouses would get for being in a similar position.
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Make no mistake: these aren’t nebulous connections that suggest a potential for wrongdoing. The International Business Times identified 13 mega-companies that paid Bill a total of $2.5 million in speaking fees while actively – and in many cases successfully – lobbying Hillary and the US State Department in the same three-month span.
Let’s look at a few specifics. Tech companies have had some of the greatest successes with the Clintons. Shortly after paying Bill $175,000 to speak, Microsoft won a $4 million contract with the US State Department. Oracle’s own government contracts increased by a couple million after giving Bill a $200,000 speaking fee. Meanwhile, Dell is probably the biggest winner of all. While lobbying Hillary, Dell hired an appearance from Bill for $300,000 – not long before the State Department decided to raise its contracts with the company from $2.5 million to a startling $28 million.
Perhaps Bill’s words of motivation inspired these companies to negotiate better with the State Department. Or perhaps they, like fellow companies Cisco Systems, Goldman Sachs, PhRMA and Pacific Rubiales, found that padding the Clinton bank account had some added advantages.
For what it’s worth, the companies tend to excuse Bill’s speaking fees as an opportunity to learn from a world leader. “As a former president, [Bill] has a unique perspective on world affairs and we were eager for him to share that perspective with our customers,” said David Frink, a spokesperson for Dell. Surely, it’s hard to disprove that explanation. Of course, that doesn’t mean the money can’t be partially intended as a bribe at the same time, which is what makes the arrangement so convenient and dangerous.
If you thought campaign donations were a corruptive force, this arrangement is actually worse. Unlike campaign donations which can’t directly be used to inflate the Clintons’ wealth, Bill – and his wife – can use the money he earns from giving high-priced speeches however he sees fit.
Presumably, there are a lot of corporations that are salivating at the thought of a Hillary presidency since they’re hoping they’re long term investments in the couple will come to pay off. That’s just yet another reason why the American people need to reject the idea of a political dynasty.