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2014 Archives

Hillary Clinton's Speaking Circuit Payday: $5 Million (and Counting)

Excerpt

The following is from the May 21, 2014, edition of Mother Jones. Jeffrey Engel, director of SMU's Center for Presidential History, provided expertise for this story.

May 30, 2014

By Andy Kroll

Bill and Hillary Clinton spent the final years of the Clinton presidency cash-strapped and buried in legal debts. But they weren't hurting for long: In her final days as first lady, Hillary landed a near-record $8 million advance for her memoir Living History, and by the time her 2008 presidential campaign was in full swing, the Clintons were flush, together having earned $109 million in the previous seven years.

When she left her position as secretary of state in February 2013, she had for the first time in decades something unusual: time off. She had a year or two to do whatever she wanted before deciding whether to run for the White House. In that period, she joined the family foundation and wrote a new memoir. She also hit the speaking circuit—and cashed in, pocketing speaking fees from businesses and trade groups that certainly have an interest in currying favor with a possible president.

Since leaving State, Clinton has made more than 90 speeches and notable appearances. Her hosts have included private equity firms, investment banks, nonprofit galas, trade association conventions, and a slew of colleges and universities. At least two-dozen of those were paid speeches. With her usual fee of $200,000 a speech, Clinton has banked close to $5 million for her speeches and appearances in the last 15 months. (A spokesman for Clinton did not respond to multiple requests for comment.)

This cash grab between public-service gigs does have some precedent. As Jeffrey Engel, director of the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University, points out, Dwight Eisenhower commanded a hefty book advance and launched a nationwide speaking series between leaving the US Army and joining Columbia University as its president—four years before he would run for president in 1952. Richard Nixon also hit the speaking circuit after he served as Ike's vice president (and lost his 1960 presidential bid) and before he campaigned again for the presidency in 1968.

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