For consistency’s sake, populist voters with animosity toward big business should steer clear of Hillary Clinton in the next presidential election.
This warning is not merely due to Clinton’s wealth. It’s true she has an estimated net worth of $50 million. But she made most of this fortune trading on her political celebrity through book advances and speaking fees — rather than, say, creating jobs, building wealth and expanding the U.S. economy, as Mitt Romney did while earning his unforgivable salary as the CEO of Bain & Company.
Yet Clinton is not free of the corporate taint. She has accumulated an estimated $4.2 million in fees from just twelve speeches to big corporations and industry groups, including such Wall Street giants as Goldman Sachs (twice). Clinton has addressed, among others, private-equity managers, business executives, real-estate brokers, and car dealers.
Clinton’s total paycheck from her most recent round on the speaking circuit, which lasted from April 2013 to June 2014, would total around $5 million, not including those speaking fees for venues that wouldn’t disclose how much they paid her. This isn’t surprising for Democrats; President Obama has been known to attack banks even while receiving more Wall Street cash than any other president.
At roughly $200,000 per speech, Clinton’s engagements included the following enemies of the 99 percent:
1. Fidelity in Naples, Fla., on April 30, 2013
An investment company and one of the largest mutual-fund companies in the U.S.
2. Kohlberg Kravis Roberts in Los Angeles, Calif., on June 4, 2013
A top global private-equity firm.
3. Society for Human Resource Management in Orlando, Fla., on June 16, 2013
A global professional organization that partners with human resource professionals.
4. The Global Business Travel Association in San Diego, Calif., on August 7, 2013
A top international business-travel and meetings organization.
5. National Association of Chain Drug Stores in Las Vegas, Nev., on August 12, 2013
Advocates for the interests and goals of the chain community pharmacy industry.
6. Carlyle Group in Washington, D.C., on September 9, 2013
A global alternative asset manager of over $199 billion. (On June 23, it raised $1 billlion in a fund that will invest in financial institutions such as wealth managers and insurance firms, its second of that type.)
7. National Association of Convenience Stores in Atlanta, G., on October 15, 2013
A trade association representing the convenience and fuel retailing industry.
8. Goldman Sachs on October 24, 2013 and October 29, 2013
Not that this one needs an introduction — a leading global investment-banking, securities, and investment-management firm; recipient of Troubled Asset Relief Program and beneficiary, through many counterparties, of government bailouts and stimuli. Frequently caricatured as a bunch of fat cats with no regard for working men and women (despite employing 32,600 working men and women as of 2012).
9. National Association of Realtors in San Francisco, California on November 9, 2013
The largest trade association and one of the most powerful lobbying groups in North America.
10. U.S. Green Building Council in Philadelphia, Pa., on November 20, 2013
An industry group that promotes sustainable building design and operation.
11. National Automobile Dealers Association Convention & Expo in New Orleans, La., on January 27, 2014
Represents around 16,000 auto dealerships and has about 32,000 separate franchises.
All this hobnobbing with big business was followed last week by the news that the Clintons, like others in the top one percent of richest U.S. households, are using financial-planning strategies to avoid an estate tax on inherited wealth. The Clintons have long backed this estate tax, but their support doesn’t extend to being willing to pay it. The tax would confiscate 40 percent of their assets above a certain level upon death.
It would seem that the common man will not find his Democratic ally in Clinton. That is, unless the rich never were the enemy of the common man.
— Celina Durgin is a Franklin Center intern at National Review Online.