1997: President Bill Clinton forms a non-profit called the Clinton Foundation.

It starts off with a modest focus on his planned presidential library in Arkansas. But once Clinton’s term as president ends in early 2001, the Clinton Foundation will steadily expand its mission and its size, eventually becoming one of the largest charities in the world. By 2015, it will have raised over $2 billion in donations. Bill Clinton never takes a salary from the foundation, nor does his wife Hillary Clinton. However, the two of them combined will earn over $150 million in speaking fees, often giving speeches discussing the foundation’s work.

A 2015 Washington Post article will comment, “At its heart, the Clinton Foundation is an ingenious machine that can turn something intangible—the Clintons’ global goodwill—into something tangible: money. For the Clintons’ charitable causes. For their aides and allies. And, indirectly, for the Clintons themselves.” (The Washington Post, 6/2/2015)

2001—2013: Bill Clinton’s work for the Clinton Foundation brings him personal wealth.

The Clinton Foundation logo (Credit: The Clinton Foundation)

The Clinton Foundation logo (Credit: The Clinton Foundation)

The Washington Post will later report that between the end of Bill Clinton’s presidency in 2001 and 2013, he is paid at least $26 million to speak for groups that are also major donors to the Clinton Foundation. This is one-fourth of his overall speaking fees (at least $100 million) in that time period, demonstrating “how closely intertwined Bill and Hillary Clinton’s charitable work has become with their growing personal wealth.”

Many groups paying for his speeches also have interests affected by Hillary Clinton’s State Department when she is secretary of state from 2009 to 2013. (The Washington Post, 4/22/2015)

Early 2009: The State Department can’t find out if sponsors of Bill Clinton’s paid speeches donated to the Clinton Foundation.

Jim Thessin (Credit: public domain)

Jim Thessin (Credit: public domain)

When Hillary Clinton became secretary of state, the Clintons agreed with the White House that State Department ethics officials would review all offers for Bill Clinton to give paid speeches, to avoid potential conflicts of interest. When the first few speech requests come in, Jim Thessin, the department’s top ethics approver, writes in an email: “In future requests, I would suggest including a statement listing whether or not any of the proposed sponsors of a speaking event have made a donation to the Clinton Foundation and, if so, the amount and date.”

However, Politico will report in 2015, “released documents show no evidence that the question was addressed.” (Politico, 2/25/2015)

January 21, 2009—February 1, 2013: While Clinton is secretary of state, at least 181 companies, individuals, and foreign governments that donate to the Clinton Foundation also lobby Clinton’s State Department.

Clinton (right) texting while attending a dinner with Moroccan Foreign Minister Taib Fassi Fihri (center) and Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini (left), in Marrakesh, Morocco, on November 2, 2009. (Credit: Abdelhak Senna / Agence France Presse)

Clinton (right) texting while attending a dinner with Moroccan Foreign Minister Taib Fassi Fihri (center) and Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini (left), in Marrakesh, Morocco, on November 2, 2009. (Credit: Abdelhak Senna / Agence France Presse)

Bill Clinton also collects $26 million in speaking fees from Clinton Foundation donors. These numbers will be calculated by Vox in 2015. Vox will comment that no one “has produced anything close to evidence of a quid pro quo in which Hillary Clinton took official action in exchange for contributions to the Clinton Foundation.”

However, “public records alone reveal a nearly limitless supply of cozy relationships between the Clintons and companies with interests before the government. […] That’s not illegal, but it is scandalous.” Vox adds, “Ultimately, it is impossible to tell where one end of the two-headed Clinton political and philanthropic operation ends and where the other begins.” (Vox, 4/28/2015)

January 21, 2009—February 1, 2013: During Clinton’s four years as secretary of state, the State Department dramatically increases the sale of military weapons to countries that are large donors to the Clinton Foundation.

Huma Abedin and Clinton on their way to meet with Abu Dhabi's crown prince, Sheik Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, in June 2011. (Credit: The Associated Press)

Huma Abedin and Clinton on their way to meet with Abu Dhabi’s crown prince, Sheik Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, in June 2011. (Credit: The Associated Press)

The department has to authorize all such sales, and can turn them down for a variety of reasons, such as documented human rights abuses in those countries. But the department authorizes $151 billion in military sales to the 16 countries that are large donors to the foundation, a 143% increase to those nations compared to the last four years of the Bush administration.

By comparison, military sales to all countries, including those countries, increase 80% during the same time period. US defense contractors also donate heavily to the Clinton Foundation during this time, as well as paying for speeches given by Bill Clinton.

Many countries the State Department approves for these sales are also criticized by the department for various problems such as corruption, political repression, and poor cooperation on terrorism. Such countries include Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates. The 16 large donor countries give between $54 million and $141 million combined to the Clinton Foundation during this time, as well as paying big speaking fees to Bill Clinton.

Meredith McGehee, policy director at the non-profit Campaign Legal Center, will later say, “The word was out to these groups that one of the best ways to gain access and influence with the Clintons was to give to this foundation. This shows why having public officials, or even spouses of public officials, connected with these non-profits is problematic.”

Gregory Suchan, who was a State Department official for over 30 years, will say that while foreign governments and defense contractors may not have made donations to the foundation exclusively to influence weapons sales, they were clearly “looking to build up deposits in the ‘favor bank’ and to be well thought of.” (The International Business Times, 5/26/2015)

January 21, 2009—2014: While secretary of state, Clinton supports international business deals that benefit Boeing, a US-based airplane manufacturing company.

A $30 billion agreement was made on December 30, 2010, to sell advanced F-15SA Strike Eagle fighter jets (pictured) to Saudi Arabia. (Credit: The Wall Street Journal)

A $30 billion agreement was made on December 30, 2010, to sell advanced F-15SA Strike Eagle fighter jets (pictured) to Saudi Arabia. (Credit: The Wall Street Journal)

Meanwhile, Boeing and the foreign countries involved in the deals donate to the Clinton Foundation and pay for speeches given by Bill Clinton.

  • In early 2009, Clinton begins working with Boeing to open up new business in Russia. Later in the year, Clinton visits Russia and makes what she describes as a “shameless pitch” to a Russian airline to buy Boeing passenger jets. In 2010, Boeing gets the deal, selling 50 jets worth $3.7 billion.
  • In 2009, China is preparing to host the 2010 world’s fair. However, it seems the US exhibit promoting US businesses will have to be cancelled, since the private fundraising efforts are going poorly. A State Department official warns that there likely will be “extremely widespread” consequences to both diplomatic and commercial interests if the US effort fails. Emails show that Clinton and other State Department officials push Boeing and other US companies to donate, and Boeing eventually gives $2 million, helping make the exhibit a success. US exposition organizer Nick Winslow will later say that he didn’t feel any political pressure, but, “Knowing that it was important to the State Department, did that help? Of course it did.”
  • In August 2010, Boeing donates $900,000 to the Clinton Foundation to support education projects in Haiti.
  • In February 2011, Boeing wins a $35 billion tanker-refueling contract for the US Air Force. Clinton had supported the bid. When she hears Boeing won, she writes in an email, “I’m pleased.”
  • In 2011, the State Department approves a series of weapons deals between Boeing and the government of Kuwait. For instance, Boeing is the prime contractor in a $690 million deal to give Kuwait military transport planes.
  • Later in 2011, Bill Clinton is paid $175,000 by the Kuwait America Foundation for a speech. Boeing is a sponsor of the event. Kuwait also continues to donate millions to the Clinton Foundation while Hillary is secretary of state.
  • In late 2011, Clinton’s State Department approves an enormous weapons deal for Saudi Arabia. A consortium of American defense contractors led by Boeing will deliver $30 billion worth of advanced fighter jets to that country, including 84 new F-15 fighter jets built by Boeing. The deal takes place despite strong opposition from Israel, as well as concerns about Saudi Arabia’s human rights record and lack of democracy. But according to a State Department official, Clinton made the deal a personal “top priority.”
  • Saudi Arabia is prohibited from donating money to the Clinton Foundation during her time as secretary of state as part of a deal Clinton signed with the White House in 2008. But in previous years, the Saudi government gave at least $10 million to foundation. Additionally, private Saudi citizens and Saudi royals give millions to the foundation while she is in office. Then the Saudi government resumes donating to the foundation after she leaves office.
  • Boeing International President Shephard Hill (left) speaks alongside Hillary Clinton in Shanghai, China, on May 22, 2010. (Credit: Getty Images)

    Boeing International President Shephard Hill (left) speaks alongside Hillary Clinton in Shanghai, China, on May 22, 2010. (Credit: Getty Images)

    In early 2012, the State Department helps Boeing secure major deals in Indonesia and Saudi Arabia.

  • In July 2012, Boeing pays Bill Clinton $250,000 for a speech.
  • In September 2012, Bill Clinton gives another speech sponsored by Boeing. He is paid $200,000.
  • In 2013, Boeing sponsored an event in St. Louis called Clinton Global Initiative University. It’s not clear how much Boeing donates, but it gives between $1 million and $5 million to the Clinton Foundation, and the event is part of the foundation’s work.

Lisa Gilbert, of the government integrity watchdog group Public Citizen, will later say that what the Clintons were doing likely was not illegal. However, it seems “unsavory.” (The Seattle Times, 3/21/2016Similar patterns can be seen with other US weapons manufacturers, like Lockheed, and other foreign governments, like Oman and Qatar. Lawrence Lessig, the director of Harvard University’s Safra Center for Ethics, will later say, “These continuing revelations raise a fundamental question of judgment. Can it really be that the Clintons didn’t recognize the questions these transactions would raise? And if they did, what does that say about their sense of the appropriate relationship between private gain and public good?” (The International Business Times, 5/26/2015)

January 21, 2009: After Hillary Clinton becomes secretary of state, the speaking fees for her husband Bill Clinton dramatically increase.

Bill Clinton giving a $500,000 speech in Moscow, Russia, on June 29, 2010. (Credit: Renaissance Capital)

Bill Clinton giving a $500,000 speech in Moscow, Russia, on June 29, 2010. (Credit: Renaissance Capital)

According to ABC News in 2015, “Where he once had drawn $150,000 for a typical address in the years following his presidency, [Bill] saw a succession of staggering paydays for speeches in 2010 and 2011, including $500,000 paid by a Russian investment bank and $750,000 to address a telecom conference in China.” Furthermore, many of the groups paying him higher fees have interests pending before Hillary’s State Department. However, there is no direct proof that Hillary takes any direct action to benefit the groups paying her husband.

Before becoming secretary of state, she agreed to a process whereby State Department ethics officials would review and approve her husband’s speaking requests. But ABC News will report, “In practice, there were few if any instances where ethics officials inside the State Department asked the former president to refuse to accept payment for a speech.” (ABC News, 4/23/2015)

March 2009—2014: The Clintons and the Clinton Foundation benefit after Hillary Clinton helps Swiss bank UBS.

Clinton appears with Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey, (left), at the State Department on July 31, 2009, announcing a settlement in a legal case involving UBS. (Credit: J. Scott Applewhite / The Associated Press)

Clinton appears with Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey, (left), at the State Department on July 31, 2009, announcing a settlement in a legal case involving UBS. (Credit: J. Scott Applewhite / The Associated Press)

In 2007, a whistleblower gave information about thousands of US citizens who were putting money in Swiss mega-bank UBS to avoid paying US taxes. The IRS [Internal Revenue Service] sues UBS to learn the identities of US citizens with secret bank accounts. UBS faces either complying and violating strict Swiss banking secrecy laws, or refusing and facing criminal charges in a US court.

The US government decides to treat this as a political matter with the Swiss government instead of just a legal problem with the bank. In March 2009, Clinton meets with Swiss officials and brings up a number of unrelated issues where the US wants help from Switzerland, such as using Swiss neutrality to help release a US citizen imprisoned in Iran. The Swiss help with these other issues, and appear to get concessions in the UBS case in return.

On July 31, 2009, Clinton announces a legal settlement: the US government dismisses the IRS lawsuit, and UBS turns over data on only 4,450 accounts instead of the 52,000 accounts worth $18 billion wanted by the IRS.

Some US politicians criticize the deal. For instance, Senator Carl Levin (D), says, “It is disappointing that the US government went along.” A senior IRS official will later complain that many US citizens escaped scrutiny due to the deal.

Former president Bill Clinton and UBS Wealth Management Chief Executive, Bob McCann, took the stage at a Clinton Global Initiative event in 2011. (Credit: Brian Kersey /UPI/ Landov)

Former president Bill Clinton and UBS Wealth Management Chief Executive, Bob McCann, took the stage at a Clinton Global Initiative event in 2011. (Credit: Brian Kersey /UPI/ Landov)

UBS then helps the Clintons in various ways:

  • Total UBS donations to the Clinton Foundation grow from less than $60,000 through 2008 to about $600,000 by the end of 2014.
  • Starting in early 2010, UBS works with the foundation to launch entrepreneurship and inner-city loan programs, and lends the programs $32 million. In 2012, the foundation will tout these programs as one of their major accomplishments.
  • UBS gives the foundation $100,000 for a charity golf tournament.
  • In 2011, UBS pays Bill Clinton $350,000 for discussing the economy at a UBS event.
  • Also in 2011, UBS pays Bill Clinton $1.5 million to take part in eleven question and answer sessions with a UBS official, making UBS his largest corporate source of speech income.

In 2015, the Wall Street Journal will comment, “there is no evidence of any link between Mrs. Clinton’s involvement in the case and the bank’s donations to [the foundation], or its hiring of Mr. Clinton. But her involvement with UBS is a prime example of how the Clintons’ private and political activities overlap.”

Lawrence Lessig, a Harvard law professor and Democrat, will say of the Clintons, “They’ve engaged in behavior to make people wonder: What was this about? Was there something other than deciding the merits of these cases?” (The Wall Street Journal, 7/30/2015)

The Atlantic magazine will comment, “If you’re Bill Clinton and your wife has recently intervened in her capacity as a cabinet secretary to help a giant corporation avert a significant threat to its bottom-line, the very least you could do, if only to avoid the appearance of impropriety, is to avoid negotiating seven-figure paydays with that same corporation. [The fact he didn’t do that] is particularly jaw-dropping because ultra-wealthy Bill Clinton has virtually unlimited opportunities to give lucrative speeches to any number of audiences not directly implicated by decisions that his wife made as secretary of state.” (The Atlantic, 7/31/2015)

June 2010—October 2010: Secret donations to a Clinton Foundation offshoot are given around the same time Clinton’s State Department allows Russia to buy a company that controls much of the uranium production in the US.

Ian Telfer (Credit: Galit Rodan / Bloomberg News)

Ian Telfer (Credit: Galit Rodan / Bloomberg News)

In 2009, a branch of Rosatom, a Russian company linked to the Russian government, buys a 17 percent stake in Uranium One, a Canadian mining company. In 2010, it wants to increase that to a controlling 51 percent stake. Some US politicians are concerned, because Uranium One owns uranium mines around the world, and uranium is a strategic asset due to its use in nuclear energy and nuclear weapons. For instance, Senator John Barrasso (R) writes to President Obama, saying the deal “would give the Russian government control over a sizable portion of America’s uranium production capacity. Equally alarming, this sale gives [them] a significant stake in uranium mines in Kazakhstan.”

According to the Clinton Foundation’s disclosure records, Ian Telfer, the Canadian head of Uranium One, donates less than $250,000 to the foundation, in 2007. However, Canadian tax records show that Telfer gives $2.4 million more from 2009 to 2012. Additional millions in donations are given around this time by other people with ties to Uranium One.

In June 2010, former President Bill Clinton is paid $500,000 to give a speech in Moscow, one of his highest speaking fees. He is paid by a Russian investment bank with ties to the Russian government. That same month, Rosatom makes its deal to get a majority stake in Uranium One. However, the deal can’t go forward without approval from a group of US cabinet officials called the Committee on Foreign Investment, including Hillary Clinton as secretary of state. In October 2010, the committee gives its approval. The committee’s decision-making process is shrouded in secrecy, but it is said the approval goes relatively smoothly.

By 2013, the Russian company will own 100% of Uranium One, and they will have control of one-fifth of all uranium production capacity in the US. The New York Times will later comment, “Whether the donations played any role in the approval of the uranium deal is unknown. But the episode underscores the special ethical challenges presented by the Clinton Foundation, headed by a former president who relied heavily on foreign cash to accumulate $250 million in assets even as his wife helped steer American foreign policy as secretary of state, presiding over decisions with the potential to benefit the foundation’s donors.”

Furthermore, Canadian mining financier Frank Giustra built a company that later merged with Uranium One, and he gives at least $31 million to the Clinton Foundation. (The New York Times, 4/23/2015) In 2007, Giustra cofounded a Canadian offshoot of the Clinton Foundation called the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership (CGEP), which has been accused of being a “slush fund” that allows politically toxic foreign contributors to anonymously donate money to the Clinton Foundation in the hopes of gaining political influence with Bill and Hillary Clinton. (Harper’s Magazine, 11/17/2015) The secret donations from Telfer and others connected to Uranium One all appear to have gone through the CGEP. (The New York Times, 4/23/2015)

April 2013—March 2015: Hillary Clinton is paid more than $21 million for 92 speeches given between April 2013 and 2015.

That averages $235,000 per speech. The speeches are given between the end of her time as secretary of state in February 2013 and the formal start of her 2016 presidential campaign in April 2015.

In 2016, Clinton will comment, “Time and time again, by innuendo, by insinuation, there is this attack that…really comes down to, you know, anybody who ever took donations or speaking fees from any interest group has to be bought. And I just absolutely reject that…” (CNN, 2/6/2016)

April 24, 2013: In a private speech, Clinton says that with everybody watching “all of the back room discussions and the deals… you need both a public and a private position.”

Clinton poses with Tom Bozuttorecently spoke at a private event in Irving, Texas, to the National Multi-Housing Board of Directors.

Clinton poses with Tom Bozzuto, chair of the National Multi-Housing Council’s board of directors, shortly before giving her first paid speech since retiring as secretary of state. (Credit: public domain)

Clinton gives a private paid speech for the National Multi-Housing Council, a trade association for rental owners and managers. In it, she says, “[P]olitics is like sausage being made. It is unsavory, and it always has been that way, but we usually end up where we need to be. But if everybody’s watching, you know, all of the back room discussions and the deals, you know, then people get a little nervous, to say the least. So, you need both a public and a private position.”

The comments will be flagged as potentially politically embarrassing by Tony Carrk, Clinton’s research director. Although the comment is made in private, Carrk’s January 2016 email mentioning the quote will be made public by WikiLeaks in October 2016. (WikiLeaks, 10/7/2016)

October 29, 2013: In a private speech, Clinton says she had to leave her phone and computer in a special box when traveling to China and Russia, but there is evidence she sent at least one email from Russia.

Clinton is greeted by Vice-Governor of St. Petersburg Oleg Markov as US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul looks on in St. Petersburg, Russia, on June 28, 2012.

Clinton is greeted by Vice-Governor of St. Petersburg Oleg Markov, as US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul looks on in St. Petersburg, Russia, on June 28, 2012. (Credit: public domain)

Clinton gives a private paid speech for Goldman Sachs, a financial services company. In it, she says, “[A]nybody who has ever traveled in other countries, some of which shall remain nameless, except for Russia and China, you know that you can’t bring your phones and your computers. And if you do, good luck. I mean, we would not only take the batteries out, we would leave the batteries and the devices on the plane in special boxes. Now, we didn’t do that because we thought it would be fun to tell somebody about. We did it because we knew that we were all targets and that we would be totally vulnerable.”

She will make similar comments in a private paid speech on August 28, 2014: “[E]very time I went to countries like China or Russia, I mean, we couldn’t take our computers, we couldn’t take our personal devices, we couldn’t take anything off the plane because they’re so good, they would penetrate them in a minute, less, a nanosecond. So we would take the batteries out, we’d leave them on the plane.”

The comments from both speeches will be flagged as potentially politically embarrassing by Tony Carrk, Clinton’s research director. Although the comments are made in private, Carrk’s January 2016 email mentioning the quotes will be made public by WikiLeaks in October 2016. (WikiLeaks, 10/7/2016)

Based on information from 2016 FBI interviews of Clinton and her aide Huma Abedin, it appears Clinton used her BlackBerry while still secretary of state to send an email to President Obama from St. Petersburg, Russia on June 28, 2012.

October 29, 2013: In a private speech, Clinton says that her department officials “were not even allowed to use mobile devices because of security issues.”

Clinton gives a private paid speech for Goldman Sachs, a financial services company. In it, she says, “[W]hen I got to the State Department, we were so far behind in technology, it was embarrassing. And, you know, people were not even allowed to use mobile devices because of security issues and cost issues, and we really had to try to push into the last part of the Twentieth Century in order to get people functioning in 2009 and ’10.

The comments will be flagged as potentially politically embarrassing by Tony Carrk, Clinton’s research director, due to Clinton’s daily use of a BlackBerry mobile device during the same time period. Although the comment is made in private, Carrk’s January 2016 email mentioning the quote will be made public by WikiLeaks in October 2016. (WikiLeaks, 10/7/2016)

October 29, 2013: In a private speech, Clinton asks why the computers of a fugitive whistleblower were not exploited by foreign countries “when my cell phone was going to be exploited.”

Clinton was keynote speaker at Goldman Sachs annual dinner that was hosted at the Clinton Global Initiative on September 23, 2013. (Credit: public domain)

Clinton was keynote speaker at Goldman Sachs annual dinner that was hosted at the Clinton Global Initiative on September 23, 2014. (Credit: public domain)

Clinton gives a private paid speech for Goldman Sachs, a financial services company. In it, she says, “[W]hat I think is true, despite [NSA fugitive whistleblower Edward] Snowden’s denials, is that if he actually showed up in Hong Kong [China] with computers and then showed up in Mexico with computers. Why are those computers not exploited when my cell phone was going to be exploited?” (Snowden was on the run from the US government and eventually settled in Russia earlier in 2013.)

The comments will be flagged as potentially politically embarrassing by Tony Carrk, Clinton’s research director, due to later revelations of Clinton’s poor security of her BlackBerry while Secretary of State. FBI Director James Comey will later call her “extremely careless.” Although the comment is made in private, Carrk’s January 2016 email mentioning the quote will be made public by WikiLeaks in October 2016. (WikiLeaks, 10/7/2016)

January 6, 2014: In a private speech, Clinton says when she got to State Department, employees “were not mostly permitted to have handheld devices.”

Clinton attends a meeting with General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt and various business leaders on September 21, 2009. (Credit: public domain)

Clinton gives a private paid speech for General Electric. In it, she says that when she arrived at the State Department as secretary of state, employees “were not mostly permitted to have handheld devices. I mean, so you’re thinking how do we operate in this new environment dominated by technology, globalizing forces? We have to change, and I can’t expect people to change if I don’t try to model it and lead it.”

The comments will be flagged as potentially politically embarrassing by Tony Carrk, Clinton’s research director, due to Clinton’s daily use of a BlackBerry mobile device during the same time period. Although the comment is made in private, Carrk’s January 2016 email mentioning the quote will be made public by WikiLeaks in October 2016. (WikiLeaks, 10/7/2016)

July 11, 2014: Nonprofit Quarterly publishes a story with the title, “The Philanthropic Problem with Hillary Clinton’s Huge Speaking Fees.”

Meyer Luskin (Credit: UCLA Newsroom)

Meyer Luskin (Credit: UCLA Newsroom)

It points out that both Bill and Hillary Clinton has recently been paid speaking fees that are sometimes “astronomical,” and significantly greater than other prominent politicians, including former US presidents. Furthermore, the Clintons often give speeches at public or private universities. These speeches are usually paid by private individuals or foundations, not by the universities themselves.

For instance, in March 2014, Hillary was paid $300,000 to speak to students and faculty at UCLA [The University of California, Los Angeles]. The entire fee was paid through a private endowment by Meyer Luskin, president of Scope Industries, a food waste recycling company. In 2012, Bill Clinton was similarly paid $250,000 for a UCLA speech paid by Luskin. In both cases, the money allegedly went to the Clinton Foundation. (Nonprofit Quarterly, 7/11/2014) However, ABC News has tried and failed to get any documentation from the Clintons proving the speaking fees went to the foundation. (ABC News, 7/9/2014)

Nonprofit Quarterly then suggests this means the Clintons’ speeches to universities could be a way for rich donors to give well over the usual campaign spending limits to Hillary’s “all but inevitable presidential campaign” by effectively “repurposing” money through these large speaking fees. “It would be terribly disappointing to imagine that the colleges and universities paying the Clintons these sums might be fronting, hopefully unknowingly, for individual donors supporting these colleges’ lecture series, but individually have personal or political agendas that would benefit from being associated with an institution of higher education that pays Bill or Hillary Clinton a couple of hundred thousand for a speech—even if the money ends up in the Clintons’ family foundation.” (Nonprofit Quarterly, 7/11/2014)

August 28, 2014: In a private speech, Clinton admits it was against the rules for some State Department officials to use BlackBerrys at the same time she used one.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at the Nexenta OpenSDx Summit, Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014 (Credit: Noah Berger / The Associated Press)

Clinton speaks at the Nexenta OpenSDx Summit, August 28, 2014. (Credit: Noah Berger / The Associated Press)

Clinton gives a private paid speech for Nexenta Systems, a computer software company. In it, she says, “Let’s face it, our government is woefully, woefully behind in all of its policies that affect the use of technology. When I got to the State Department, it was still against the rules to let most — or let all foreign service officers have access to a BlackBerry.”

The comments will be flagged as potentially politically embarrassing by Tony Carrk, Clinton’s research director, due to Clinton’s daily use of a BlackBerry during the same time period. Although the comment is made in private, Carrk’s January 2016 email mentioning the quote will be made public by WikiLeaks in October 2016. (WikiLeaks, 10/7/2016)

 

February 25, 2015: Bill Clinton won’t tell the State Department how much he’s being offered to give speeches, making it difficult for the department to reject any offers.

Richard Painter (Credit: Harvard Center for Ethics)

Richard Painter (Credit: Harvard Center for Ethics)

Politico reports, “In hundreds of documents released to Politico under the Freedom of Information Act [FOIA], not a single case appears where the State Department explicitly rejected a Bill Clinton speech.” They raised serious questions about only two speech proposals. “Instead, the records show State Department lawyers acted on sparse information about business proposals and speech requests and were under the gun to approve the proposals promptly.”

The Clintons made a deal with the White House to require State Department ethics officials to give their approval of all of Bill Clinton’s paid speech offers. However, the deal didn’t require Clinton to reveal how much he would be paid for any speech, and he didn’t voluntarily disclose this, so the officials were unable to judge if he was being overpaid and thus essentially bribed. He also didn’t reveal potential conflicts of interests with those paying for the speeches, such as donations to the Clinton Foundation or other relationships with the Clintons.

Richard Painter, a former White House ethics lawyer, says that since the department officials didn’t know the specific speech fees in advance, he doesn’t see how they could have fairly judged whether to approve the speech or not. “That would be a gap if they didn’t find out at all.” (Politico, 2/25/2015)

May 4, 2015: Former President Bill Clinton responds to criticism of the Clinton Foundation and his large speaking fees.

Bill and Hillary Clinton in Manhattan, New York, on January 6, 2015. (Credit: Carlo Allegri / Reuters)

Bill and Hillary Clinton in Manhattan, New York, on January 6, 2015. (Credit: Carlo Allegri / Reuters)

“There is no doubt in my mind that we have never done anything knowingly inappropriate in terms of taking money to influence any kind of American government policy.” He says he won’t stop being paid for giving speeches. “I gotta pay our bills. And I also give a lot of it to the foundation every year.” He also says, “People should draw their own conclusions. I’m not in politics. All I’m saying is the idea that there’s one set of rules for us and another set for everybody else is true.” (NBC News, 5/4/2015)

The next day, Politico reports that his “I gotta pay our bills” comment strikes some Democrats as “off-key” and worrisome, given the vast wealth the Clintons have. (Politico, 5/5/2015)

May 21, 2015: The Clinton Foundation confirms that it received millions in previously unreported payments by foreign governments and corporations for speeches given by Bill and Hillary Clinton.

The foundation won’t give the exact amount, but it is somewhere between 12 and 26 million dollars. Foundation officials say the income was not disclosed publicly because it was considered revenue, rather than donations. CNN calls this “the latest in a string of admissions from the foundation that it didn’t always abide by a 2008 ethics agreement to disclose its funding sources publicly.” (CNN, 5/21/2015)

June 10, 2015: Former President Bill Clinton says that he won’t stop giving paid speeches while his wife Hillary is running for president.

But when asked if he’ll keep giving paid speeches if she becomes the next president, he says, “No, I don’t think so.” In 2014 alone, Bill and Hillary were paid $25 million for 104 paid speeches, and such speeches have raised conflict of interest questions. Asked if he will continue to work for the Clinton Foundation if Hillary becomes president, he says, “That will be not an easy decision should she be elected president. She will have to decide…[We] will have to talk about it.” (CNN, 6/11/2015)

November 17, 2015: The Clinton Foundation is accused of being a money laundering front to benefit the Clintons.

Ken Silverstein (Credit; Tribute Magazine)

Ken Silverstein (Credit; Tribute Magazine)

Longtime investigative journalist Ken Silverstein writes an expose about the foundation for Harper’s Magazine. He asserts: “If the Justice Department and law enforcement agencies do their jobs, the foundation will be closed and its current and past trustees, who include Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton, will be indicted. That’s because their so-called charitable enterprise has served as a vehicle to launder money and to enrich Clinton family friends.”

As one example, Silverstein notes that the Clinton Foundation has received more than $1 billion to purchase HIV/AIDS drugs for poor people around the world. “However, a unit set up to receive the money…clearly spent far, far less than it took in. In fact, the unit’s accounting practices were so shoddy that its license was revoked by the state of Massachusetts, where it was headquartered.”

An unnamed “money-laundering expert and former intelligence officer based in the Middle East who had access to the foundation’s confidential banking information” claims that all investigators would have to do “is match up Hillary’s travel as secretary of state with Bill’s speaking arrangements. Bill heads out to foreign countries and he gets paid huge amounts of money for a thirty-minute speech and then she heads out for an official visit as a favor. She racked up more miles than any secretary of state [other than Condoleezza Rice] and that’s one of the reasons why. How can they get away with that?” The Clinton Foundation has not commented on the allegations. (Harper’s Magazine, 11/17/2015)

November 19, 2015: The Washington Post publishes an in-depth analysis of the history of Bill and Hillary Clinton’s political fundraising.

A graphic from The Washington Post article "Inside the Clinton Donor Network." (Credit: The Washington Post)

A graphic from The Washington Post article “Inside the Clinton Donor Network.” (Credit: The Washington Post)

It reveals that the Clintons “have built an unrivaled global network of donors while pioneering fundraising techniques that have transformed modern politics,” raising more money than any other politicians in US history. All their fundraising combined over four decades in politics has raised at least $3 billion. $2 billion of that has gone to the Clinton Foundation and another billion has gone to their various political campaigns, especially presidential races. Additionally, since 2000, the Clintons were directly paid more than $150 million from giving speeches. The Clintons have a loyal core of about 2,700 rich political contributors who make up less than one percent of donors who gave more than $200 but have given 21 percent of all the money. The Post comments, “The Clintons’ steady cultivation of financial benefactors—many of whom had interests before the government—has led to charges of conflicts of interest and impropriety, such as Bill Clinton’s end-of-term presidential pardons sought by donors. […] Most of all, the Clintons have excelled at leveraging access to their power and celebrity.” (The Washington Post, 11/19/2015)

April 26, 2016: The Associated Press reports: “Most companies and groups that paid Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to speak between 2013 and 2015 have lobbied federal agencies in recent years, and more than one-third are government contractors…”

Lawrence Noble (Credit: The Associated Press)

Lawrence Noble (Credit: The Associated Press)

Clinton was paid a total of $22 million for 94 speeches by 82 different firms and organizations in the time between the end of her secretary of state tenure in February 2013 and the official start of her 2016 presidential campaign in April 2015. At least 60 firms and organizations that paid for her speeches lobbied the Obama administration at some point, at least 30 profited from government contracts, and at least 22 had business before the State Department while Clinton was secretary of state.

Lawrence Noble, of the election watchdog group Campaign Legal Center, says, “The problem is whether all these interests who paid her to appear before them will expect to have special access when they have an issue before the government.”

Together, trade association lobbying groups and the financial sector paid a total of $11 million of her speeches, about half of the total during that two-year time period. (The Associated Press, 8/21/2016)

August 18, 2016: The Clinton Foundation announces what changes it will make if Hillary Clinton is elected president.

Former President Bill Clinton tells foundation staff what changes the foundation will make to deal with conflict of interest concerns if Hillary is elected president in November 2016:

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Bill Clinton (Credit: Darren McCollester / Getty Images)

  • The foundation will stop accepting donations from any foreign entity or from any corporations or corporate charities. Only US citizens and independent charities will be able to donate.
  • Bill Clinton will resign from the foundation’s board.
  • He will not give any paid speeches until the November 2016 election, and then will not give any paid speeches if Hillary wins the election.
  • He also will stop personally soliciting donations for the foundation.
  • This year’s annual Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) meeting will be the last one.

All of these changes will occur only if Clinton wins the presidential election, except for the CGI meetings, which will stop even if she loses.

Republicans criticize the changes as insufficient. Republican National Committee (RNC) chair Reince Priebus says the changes are “too little, too late.” He says the foundation “should immediately cease accepting foreign donations and return every penny ever taken from other countries, several of which have atrocious human rights records and ties to terrorism.” He also says the foundation continuing to accept foreign donations during Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign is a “massive, ongoing conflict of interest that gets bigger by the day.” (The Associated Press, 8/22/2016) (The Los Angeles Times, 8/22/2016)