The White House made a deal when Hillary Clinton became secretary of state that all of former President Bill Clinton’s paid speech offers would be approved by State Department ethics officials.
In mid-November 2011, Bill Clinton’s aides tell department officials about an offer Bill Clinton has received to give a videotaped speech to the Shanghai Sports Development Foundation. This is a charity funded by wealthy Chinese hedge fund manager Kai Jiang. Unlike all previous speech requests, department officials raise concerns. They are worried that the Chinese government might actually be ultimately funding the speech or planning to benefit from it. Department ethics lawyer Chip Brooks writes in an email: “There is something peculiar about [Jiang] paying for a talk that will be to an event sponsored by a Chinese Government entity, even if it is considered to be non-profit by the organization. Can we confirm the payment is actually from Mr. Jiang and not from the [Shanghai Sports Development] Foundation or the Chinese Government?”
However, over the next two weeks, officials struggle to get basic information from Clinton’s aides about the event’s hosts, their possible connections to the Chinese government, and how much Clinton would be paid.
After at least seven back and forth emails, on December 2, 2011, Clinton’s aides tell the department, “We are not going to proceed with this.” But there’s no further explanation why the speech offer is cancelled. Politico will report in 2015 that out of Clinton’s hundreds of speech offers, this “is the only proposed event in the released records for which official questions look to have played a role in scuttling the appearance.” (Politico, 2/25/2015)