Politics & Government

After boosting trade pacts, Hillary Clinton gets millions from speeches to traders

Traveling the world as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton was a vocal booster of legislation to fast-track congressional action on global trade agreements.

She also spoke in favor of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would lift barriers to trade with 11 Asian and Pacific Rim countries.

Now, with the release last week of her latest financial disclosure statement, Clinton has revealed the flow of a different kind of trade dollars.

Companies and coalitions aligned with her past positions on the trade legislation ponied up more than $2 million of the nearly $12 million in speaking fees Clinton hauled in between January 2014 and this March, weeks before she declared her candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Lately, Clinton, who has swung to the left on numerous social issues, has gone silent on trade. She has been under pressure from liberals to side with the 44 Senate Democrats opposing those measures on grounds they would cost Americans jobs.

As recently as March 11, she picked up a $315,000 check for speaking at an event in San Jose, Calif., sponsored by Internet auctioneer eBay Inc., a member of the National Foreign Trade Council that’s pushing for passage of the trade bills.

Other multinational companies that favor the legislation also fattened her wallet. General Electric chipped in $220,500 for a January appearance in Boca Raton, Fla. Last year, Cisco Systems Inc. and Qualcomm Corp. each paid $325,000 for Clinton speeches, respectively in Las Vegas and San Diego. Corning Inc. paid $225,500 and Xerox Corp put up $225,000 for speeches in New York.

In addition, the Biotechnology Industry Organization paid her $235,000 for a speech in San Diego, and the Advanced Medical Technology Association paid her $265,000 to speak in Chicago. Both groups have joined the broad ranks pushing for passage of the measures over the last couple of years.

“I suppose that those in favor of the free-trade agreements know that when push comes to shove, Hillary Clinton is going to be on their side anyway,” said Craig Holman, who lobbies Congress for the consumer watchdog group Public Citizen. “Providing her with a lot of money is one sure way to keep her in their camp. . . . That’s how you buy influence: Find ways to hand cold cash over to the Clinton family.”

Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, has made the speaking tour a cash cow for more than a decade, and separately he made about $13 million, bringing the former first couple’s total to $25 million from speeches in the 14 1/2-month period.

What is unusual about the latest statement, however, is that it reveals Hillary Clinton directly enriching herself from the treasuries of Fortune 500 companies that would hold major stakes in a variety of issues if she is elected the nation’s first female president.

“Nothing illegal, but this is going to be used against her in the campaign,” Holman said. “And it should be. This is really just voluntarily placing herself in a conflict-of-interest situation that raises red flags. It’s almost irresponsible.”

Besides Hillary Clinton’s income, since January 2014, Bill Clinton has brought in $1.425 million from four other companies backing trade promotion authority, the fast-track legislation, and the National Association of Manufacturers. All signed a letter supporting the legislation by the Trade Benefits America coalition.

The financial statement shows that a number of Hillary Clinton’s appearances were in Canada, sponsored by the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, which paid her hundreds of thousands of dollars to appear, though the exact amount is hard to determine because a number of the speeches were listed in the name tinePublic, a small Canadian firm that booked her for at least five appearances – in Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon and Winnipeg.

The Canadian bank’s chief executive, Victor Dodig, interviewed Clinton after several of her talks – a gesture that Hillary Clinton has afforded few members of the American news media since declaring her candidacy.

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