By Michael Walsh
“Follow the money.” That telling phrase, which has come to summarize the Watergate scandal, has been a part of the lexicon since 1976. It’s shorthand for political corruption: At what point do “contributions” become bribes, “constituent services” turn into quid pro quos and “charities” become slush funds?
Ronald Reagan was severely criticized in 1989 when, after he left office, he was paid $2 million for a couple of speeches in Japan. “The founding fathers would have been stunned that an occupant of the highest office in this land turned it into bucks,” sniffed a Columbia professor.
So what would Washington and Jefferson make of Hillary Rodham Clinton? Mandatory financial disclosures released this month show that, in just the two years from April 2013 to March 2015, the former first lady, senator and secretary of state collected $21,667,000 in “speaking fees,” not to mention the cool $5 mil she corralled as an advance for her 2014 flop book, “Hard Choices.”
Throw in the additional $26,630,000 her ex-president husband hoovered up in personal-appearance “honoraria,” and the nation can breathe a collective sigh of relief that the former first couple — who, according to Hillary, were “dead broke” when they left the White House in 2001 with some of the furniture in tow — can finally make ends meet.
No wonder Donald Trump calls her “crooked Hillary.”
A look at Mrs. Clinton’s speaking venues and the whopping sums she’s received since she left State gives us an indication who’s desperate for a place at the trough — and whom another Clinton administration might favor.
First off, there’s Wall Street and the financial-services industry. Democratic champions of the Little Guy are always in bed with the Street — they don’t call Barack Obama “President Goldman Sachs” for nothing, but Mrs. Clinton has room for Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice and their 10 best friends. Multiple trips to Goldman Sachs. Morgan Stanley. Deutsche Bank. Kohlberg Kravis Roberts. UBS Wealth Management.
As the character of Che Guevara sings in “Evita”: “And the money kept rolling in.” And all at the bargain price of $225,000 a pop . . . to say what? We don’t know, because Hillary won’t release the transcripts.
Big Pharma and health-care companies also make the list; they want to keep on the good side of the woman who tried to force HillaryCare down our throats in 1993 and who’s sure to morph ObamaCare into the “single-payer” socialized-medicine model so beloved of “progressives.” So say hello to the National Association of Chain Drug Stores ($225,000) and the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society ($225,500).
The entertainment industry has an enormous effect on the popular culture, so no surprise seeing the A&E Networks on the list. American Jews donate lustily to the Democratic Party, so throw in the Beth El Synagogue in Minneapolis and the Jewish United Fund of Chicago.
The United Fresh Produce Association. The National Automobile Dealers Association ponied up $325,000. Even eBay forked over protection money, er, an honorarium. Because taking care of constituents is what the Clintons do — as long as the constituents take care of them.
As “Clinton Cash,” a new documentary based on Peter Schweizer’s 2015 book, shows in excruciating, irrefutable detail, it’s always “pay to play” with the Clintons, whether personally or via their family racket, the Clinton Foundation (which includes the Clinton Global Initiative). They’ve sucked up vast sums of “contributions” from some of the most unsavory folks on the planet, including Nigerian dictators and Kazakhstani despots.
But it’s their parlaying of “public service” by two career “civil servants” into personal enrichment that’s shameless.
Bill Clinton’s speaking fees skyrocketed just days after Hillary’s nomination as secretary of state in 2009. Corporations, such as TD Bank, that had never paid a dime to hear him speak suddenly bellied up to the bar, waving fistfuls of cash. Coincidentally, TD Bank was the largest investor in the Keystone XL pipeline, which needed approval from the new secretary of state. Hillary dodged and weaved and Obama later nixed it — but the Clintons kept the cash. It makes sense to make friends with the woman who might just be the next president. But what does that say about what the office has become?
As Obama has shown, there’s now essentially no limit on the president’s power: He can dictate overtime wages (via executive decree), the forcible integration of the suburbs (via HUD) and even sexually integrate bathrooms (under Title IX). No wonder private companies want to cozy up to the White House. Your business is now the president’s business, if he or she wants it to be.
But, should Hillary attain the White House, you ain’t seen nothing yet. For the Clintons, who once rented out the Lincoln Bedroom, too much doesn’t even approach being enough.