Clinton Earns $12 Million Speaking, Writing After ServiceLisa Lerer and Lauren Streib
Hillary Clinton has earned at least $12 million in 16 months since leaving the State Department, a windfall at odds with her party’s call to shrink the gap between the rich and the poor.
Clinton’s income since her resignation as secretary of state in February 2013 is derived mostly from her latest memoir, speeches and paid appearances at corporate retreats, according to an analysis of data compiled by Bloomberg.
At least 12 organizations that previously booked President Bill Clinton -- who has been paid almost $106 million in speaking fees alone since he left the White House -- also hired his wife. Among them: Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and the National Association of Realtors.
With a prospective 2016 presidential candidacy in her future, she keeps tight control over her events. In one university contract, Clinton retained the right to approve her introducer, program, moderator and the set, and she limited to 50 the number of pictures taken on a rope line.
Her earnings represent a fraction of the Clinton family’s total income and yet were large enough to rank her not only in the top 1 percent of the nation’s earners but in the top one-hundredth of the 1 percent.
“Bill and I have worked really hard and we’ve been successful,” she said last week in an appearance on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show.” “We believed we could pretty much make our way up the ladder. Now, I think a lot of young people don’t believe that anymore.”
Clinton’s representatives declined requests to comment for this article.
The cottage industry the Clintons have created around their public personae is already drawing criticism similar to the 2012 attacks on Mitt Romney, the co-founder of private equity firm Bain Capital LLC. Democrats accused the wealthy Republican presidential nominee of being out of touch with voters.
Some Democrats also question how Clinton will appeal to working-class voters and serve as the party’s chief crusader against stagnant wages and the gap between rich and poor, given that she has received millions from financial firms and other corporations.
“These issues of income inequality are important to Democratic voters,” said Josh Orton, political director for Progressives United, a Democratic super-political action committee. “There’s going to be a bit of cognitive dissonance between that kind of fundraising and campaigning on how to fix inequality.”
The annual U.S. mean wage for all occupations was $46,440 as of May 2013. In the 2012 presidential election, 41 percent of voters nationally had earnings of $50,000 or less. Among those who backed President Barack Obama, 60 percent made that much or less, exit polls show.
Democratic and Republican analysts dubbed as a gaffe Clinton’s assertion in an ABC News interview that her family was “dead broke” when leaving the White House, given its wealth today. Some aren’t sure she learned the right lessons from it.
“She has answered questions about her speaking fees and her family’s money by assuming that the question is about whether she and her husband deserve the money,” said Robert Reich, who served as secretary of Labor during the Clinton administration.
“The real question behind the question is: Are you going to be fighting for average working people?” he said. “It’s doubly important for her to show that even though she may take money from Wall Street, she won’t allow Wall Street to dictate what she says or the policies she will advocate.”
Clinton called comparisons with Romney a “false equivalency,” during an interview last month with PBS. “I’m fully comfortable with who I am, what I stand for and what I’ve always stood for.”
Her supporters dismiss the idea that her wealth is an issue, saying she has long backed policies that would benefit ordinary Americans.
“Hillary Clinton has fought her entire life to advocate for a level playing field and to increase opportunity for all Americans,” said Adrienne Watson, deputy communications director for Correct the Record, a pro-Clinton organization.
The Bloomberg News evaluation of Clinton’s earnings is based on income from her speeches and her recent book. Bloomberg relied on interviews with organizations that hired her to speak, news reports and public documents to compile her speaking fees. Her book-advance estimate is derived from federal financial-disclosure reports and interviews with literary agents.
The total is a minimum figure that doesn’t take into account investment income and isn’t adjusted for earnings that were donated to charity. The accounting of Clinton’s income since leaving government service is likely as much as the public will learn about her finances unless she runs and releases tax returns or is elected and files financial-disclosure reports.
The Clintons’ daughter, Chelsea, commands a reported $75,000 a speech, as first reported by the New York Times. She donates all her fees to the family foundation. The Clinton Foundation reported more than $234 million in revenue in 2012, according to public filings with the Internal Revenue Service. The foundation supports 11 projects, including the “Too Small to Fail’ initiative to improve the health of children younger than the age of 6.
Hillary Clinton aides wouldn’t release a full list of her appearances or a precise number for her book advance. Her book agent, Robert Barnett, and spokesman, Nick Merrill, declined to comment on her compensation.
The book, ‘‘Hard Choices,” chronicles her time at the State Department. It netted the former first lady at least $6 million between her advance and book sales, according to Bloomberg’s analysis of industry standards and public records.
The 635-page tome has sold 191,000 hard copies in five weeks, according to Nielsen, which covers about 85 percent of the print book market. The sales have kept Clinton on the non-fiction bestseller list since its release.
“The book should have a very long shelf life, with significant hardcover sales over time” said Christy Fletcher, a literary agent and co-founder of Fletcher & Co. “Especially if she decides to run.”
Beyond her book, Clinton has been paid at least $6 million for more than 100 speeches and appearances she has given to a range of industry groups, nonprofits, universities and corporations, according to published reports and a survey of those who hired her. Companies that have booked the former New York senator include KKR & Co., the Carlyle Group LP and financial-services firms. This week, she’ll speak at an Ameriprise Financial Inc. conference in Boston.
Her fee for delivering speeches is at least $200,000, according to people familiar with the payments who weren’t authorized to talk publicly. Clinton received payment for at least 27 addresses.
Some of her fees, including all of those for college campus appearances, have been donated to the family’s nonprofit foundation.
“All of the fees have been donated to the Clinton Foundation for it to continue its life-changing and life-saving work. So it goes from a foundation at a university to another foundation,” Clinton said in an ABC News interview last week.
Her contract with the University of Buffalo for an Oct. 23 speech stipulated that her $275,000 fee be paid to her speaking agency, Harry Walker Agency Inc., and then remitted to the foundation.
Clinton retained the right to approve her surroundings -- from the moderator to the set. She also banned recording or broadcasting of her remarks, and required the school to pay $1,000 for a stenographer to transcribe Clinton’s remarks for her records.
Her husband was paid for 544 speeches between 2001 and 2012 with fees ranging from $28,100 to $750,000, according to financial-disclosure reports.
Since then, Bill Clinton has given at least 40 additional addresses, including one for the Peres Academic Center in Rehovot, Israel, that earned him $500,000. It was donated to the Clinton Foundation.
Companies and corporate groups that at different times have hired both Clintons include the Biotechnology Industry Organization’s international convention, to which Hillary Clinton delivered the keynote speech earlier this year; her husband delivered the same address in 2010 and was compensated $175,000.
The former president also earned $150,000 for a 2006 speech to the same group, according to federal financial disclosures. Daniel Seaton, a spokesman for the trade association, declined to comment on either speaker.
Goldman Sachs paid Bill Clinton almost $1.2 million for seven appearances between 2001 and 2012. The bank didn’t respond to questions about whether the former secretary of state was paid for her speech in October at its AIMS Alternative Investment Conference, an event for bank clients, or her remarks at the company’s Builders and Innovators Summit a few days later, where she appeared beside Goldman Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein.
In her speeches, Clinton talks about current events, policy issues important to her audience, and often cracks a few jokes.
Speaking before the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries on April 10, an audience member threw a shoe at her during the start of her remarks.
“Is that part of Cirque du Soleil?” Clinton joked, from the stage at the Mandalay Bay resort in Las Vegas. “My goodness, I didn’t know that solid waste management was so controversial,” she added.
Republicans are already working lines of attack on Clinton for her post-government earnings, and those of her husband.
“The Clintons did not start a company that created growth or jobs,” said Tim Miller, executive director of America Rising, a super-political action committee founded by Romney campaign veterans. “What they did to make money was put a ‘For Sale’ sign on themselves.”