Off the stump.

Photographer: CHRIS KLEPONIS/AFP/Getty Images

Why You'll See Clinton's Wall Street Speeches Soon

Albert R. Hunt is a Bloomberg View columnist. He was the executive editor of Bloomberg News, before which he was a reporter, bureau chief and executive Washington editor at the Wall Street Journal.
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Here's a good bet: After resisting for a year, Hillary Clinton soon will release copies of some of the lucrative paid speeches she made to big Wall Street interests three years ago.

Here's why:  

• She is assailing Donald Trump for not releasing his tax returns. One of his rejoinders is her refusal to let the world know what she told the fat cats. It's true that virtually all candidates release their tax returns but not transcripts of private speeches. Still, keeping the speeches under wraps undercuts Clinton's criticism.

• Trust remains one of Clinton's major problems with the public and the speeches reinforce it. In this week's Bloomberg Politics poll, when asked about a series of criticisms of Clinton, the one that voters cited as most bothersome was the paid speeches, more even than her use of a private e-mail server while Secretary of State. Half of likely voters said they were bothered "a lot" about the speeches; only a quarter said it didn't bother them.

• With Bernie Sanders out of the way, there's less political risk. The Vermont senator's full-throated attacks on Wall Street appealed to a lot of Democratic primary voters. It's safe to assume that Clinton's speeches were more conciliatory, making them a potential liability in her campaign against a socialist opponent. On the stump, by contrast, Clinton has struck a tough tone on Wall Street: "I have the toughest most effective campaign plan to take on the entire financial industry," she has declared. That's probably not what she said privately to the bankers -- few people take money for speeches and then criticize their hosts. 

Clinton, after she left the State Department in 2013, collected well over a million dollars in speaking fees, including $675,000 at Goldman-Sachs functions. Sanders and others pressured her to release what she said in these speeches. She refused, at one point saying she'd only do that if others did. Then she dropped the issue.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

To contact the author of this story:
Albert R. Hunt at ahunt1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Jonathan Landman at jlandman4@bloomberg.net