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Saturday, May 16, 2015

“I gotta pay our bills”

That's the reason Bill Clinton recently gave for why he is not going to quit giving paid speeches while his wife runs for President.  Apparently he said it sometime before May 4, but it was reported again in today's Washington Post, in an article currently titled "Clintons have made more than $25 million for speaking since January 2014."  I could have sworn that when I started writing this post (just a few minutes ago), the title of the article used the word "earned."  And sure enough, the url still says "earn":, at least as of this moment.

It's interesting to note how various other news outlets characterize the Clintons' take:

I'd tend to go with the Japan Times -- they raked it in.

My point is that it's very hard for me to understand how in any sense of the word Bill or Hillary "earned" the money they were paid as speaking fees.

To be fair, the word "earn" has multiple definitions:

verb(of a person) obtain (money) in return for labor or services.
"they earn $35 per hour"
synonyms:be paid, take home, grossnetMore
(of an activity or action) cause (someone) to obtain (money).
"this latest win earned them $50,000 in prize money"
(of capital invested) gain (money) as interest or profit.
(of the Clintons) gain money in exchange for prospect of future influence.

Ok, I added that last one.

But that's my point -- we are really stretching the definition of "earn" when somebody is routinely given $250,000 for giving a one-hour speech.  Nobody is that good a speaker.  Nobody.

So who is giving them this kind of money?

Here is the full list of speeches:

Hillary Clinton’s speeches:
GE1/6/2014Boca Raton, Fl.$225,500
National Automobile Dealers Association1/27/2014New Orleans, La.$325,500
Premier Health Alliance1/27/2014Miami, Fl.$225,500
Salesforce.com2/6/2014Las Vegas, Nv.$225,500
Novo Nordisk A/S2/17/2014Mexico City, Mexico125,000
Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society2/26/2014Orlando, Fl.$225,500
A&E Television Networks2/27/2014New York, N.Y.280,000
Association of Corporate Counsel - Southern California3/4/2014Los Angeles, Ca.$225,500
The Vancouver Board of Trade3/5/2014Vancouver, Canada$275,500
tinePublic Inc.3/6/2014Calgary, Canada$225,500
Pharmaceutical Care Management Association3/13/2014Orlando, Fl.$225,500
Drug Chemical and Associated Technologies3/13/2014New York, N.Y.$250,000
Xerox Corporation3/18/2014New York, N.Y.$225,000
Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal3/18/2014Montreal, Canada$275,000
Academic Partnerships3/24/2014Dallas, Tx.$225,500
Marketo Inc.4/8/2014San Francisco, Ca.$225,500
World Affairs Council4/8/2014Portland, Or.$250,500
Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries Inc.4/10/2014Las Vegas, Nv.$225,500
4/10/2014San Jose, Ca.$265,000
California Medical Association (via satellite)4/11/2014San Diego, Ca.$100,000
National Council for Behavioral Healthcare5/6/2014Washington D.C.$225,500
International Deli-Dairy-Bakery Association6/2/2014Denver, Co.$225,500
6/2/2014Denver, Co.$265,000
United Fresh Produce Association6/10/2014Chicago, Il.$225,000
tinePublic Inc.6/16/2014Toronto, Canada$150,000
tinePublic Inc.6/18/2014Edmonton, Canada$100,000
Innovation Arts and Entertainment6/20/2014Austin, Tx.$150,000
Biotechnology Industry Organization6/25/2014San Diego, Ca.$335,000
Innovation Arts and Entertainment6/25/2014San Francisco, Ca.$150,000
GTCR6/26/2014Chicago, Il.$280,000
Knewton, Inc.7/22/2014San Francisco, Ca.$225,500
Ameriprise7/26/2014Boston, Ma.$225,500
Corning, Inc.7/29/2014Corning, N.Y.$225,500
Nexenta Systems, Inc.8/28/2014San Francisco, Ca.$300,000
Cisco8/28/2014Las Vegas, Nv.$325,000
Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP9/4/2014San Diego, Ca.$225,500
Caridovascular Research Foundation9/15/2014Washington D.C.$275,000
Commercial Real Estate Women Network10/2/2014Miami Beach, Fl.$225,500
Canada 202010/6/2014Ottawa, Canada$215,500
Deutsche Bank AG10/7/2014New York, N.Y.$280,000
Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed)10/8/2014Chicago, Il.$265,000
Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers10/13/2014Colorado Springs, Co.$225,500
Salesforce.com10/14/2014San Francisco, Ca.$225,500
Qualcomm Incorporated10/14/2014San Diego, Ca.$335,000
Massachusetts Conference for Women12/4/2014Boston, Ma.$205,500
tinePublic Inc.1/21/2015Winnipeg, Canada$262,000
tinePublic Inc.1/21/2015Saskatoon, Canada$262,500
Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce1/22/2015Whistler, Canada$150,000
2/24/2015Santa Clara, Ca.$225,500
eBay Inc.3/11/2015San Jose, Ca.$315,000
American Camping Association3/19/2015Atlantic City, N.J.$260,000

Bill Clinton’s speeches:
Patient Safety Movement Foundation1/12/2014Laguna Niguel, Ca.$315,000.00
National Multi Housing Council1/23/2014Boca Raton, Fl.$285,000
Thomas Lloyd Global Asset Management1/24/2014Frankfurt, Germany$200,000
The Fragrance Foundation1/29/2014New York, N.Y.$250,000
2/4/2014Las Vegas, Nv.$290,000
Centurion Jewelry By Invitation Only, LLC2/4/2014Scottsdale, Az.$225,000
2/27/2014Los Angeles, Ca.$100,000
Bright Futures International2/27/2014Beverly Hills, Ca.$225,000
Microsoft Corporation3/3/2014Las Vegas, Nv.$225,000
Bank of America3/6/2014London, United Kingdom$500,000
Kessler Topaz Meltzer & Check LLP3/7/2014The Netherlands$500,000
Telefonica (via satellite)4/1/2014Miami, Fl.$175,000
CSP LLC4/1/2014Scottsdale, Az.$225,000
Oracle Americas, Inc.4/2/2014Rancho Mirage, Ca.$300,000
Experian5/5/2014Dallas, Tx.$225,000
Jefferies LLC5/6/2014Miami, Fl.$225,000
Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies5/12/2014Toronto, Canada$275,000
Target Markets Program Administrators5/13/2014Baltimore, Md.$275,000
UBS Wealth Management Americas5/19/2014Washington D.C.$225,000
SCIP Capital Management, LLC5/20/2014New York, N.Y.$250,000
EAT The Stockholm Food Forum AB5/26/2014Stockholm, Sweeden$500,000
Entergy Corporation6/5/2014New York, N.Y.$250,000
Insurance Accounting and Systems Association6/10/2014Indianapolis, In.$225,000
Castlight Health6/10/2014New York, N.Y.$250,000
Hogan Lovelis US LLP6/20/2014Toronto, Canada$225,000
Skechers USA, Inc.6/26/2014Redondo Beach, Ca.$350,000
Deutsche Bank AG8/27/2014Boston, Ma.$270,000
9/9/2014New York, N.Y.$150,000
Association of Energy Engineers10/1/2014Washington D.C.$275,000
Affiliated Managers Group, Inc.10/9/2014Napa Valley, Ca.$225,000
Veritas Capital Fund Management LLC10/14/2014New York, N.Y.$250,000
UBS Wealth Management Americas10/14/2014Boston, Ma.$225,000
Citadel LLC10/15/2014New York, N.Y.$250,000
SAP America10/23/2014New York, N.Y.$250,000
Press Ganey Associates, Inc.11/3/2014Orlando, Fl.$225,000
World Affairs Council - Los Angeles11/10/2014Los Angeles, Ca.$150,000
Centerview Partners LLC11/13/2014Carefree, Az.$225,000
AT&T Services, Inc.11/20/2014Tuscon, Az.$225,000
Williams Morris Endeavor1/9/2015Carlsbad, Ca.$225,000
MPSF, Inc.2/2/2015Marin, Ca.$181,250
MPSF, Inc.2/3/2015Oakland, Ca.$181,250
MPSF, Inc.2/4/2015San Mateo, Ca.$181,250
MPSF, Inc.2/5/2015Marin, Ca.$181,250
UBS Wealth Management Americas2/19/2015Nashville, Tn.$225,000
National Association of Manufacturers3/2/2015Scottsdale, Az.$325,000 Limited3/31/2015Irving, Tx.$275,000
Texas China Business Council, LLC3/31/2015Austin, Tx.$265,000
Wyndham Hotel Group4/1/2015Las Vegas, Nv.$225,000
ISN Software Inc.4/9/2015Grapevine, Tx.$275,000
Oracle Corporation4/16/2015Rancho Mirage, Ca.$360,000
Univision Management Company5/12/2015New York, N.Y.$250,000
Apollo Management Holdings, LP5/12/2015New York, N.Y.$250,000
American Institute of Architects5/14/2015Atlanta, Ga.$250,000

Basically and unsurprisingly, it's almost all corporations  Drug companies, insurance companies, tech companies, and, of course, banks.  And as everybody knows, corporations have an obligation to try to make money for their shareholders, not give it away.  I wonder what the defense would be if someone  were to bring a shareholder's derivative suit against, say, Qualcomm, for wasting $335,000 on a Bill Clinton speech.  Would the defense be that the company needed to have him in there to motivate the employees?  Or that he had some information that could help the employees become more proficient at their jobs?  Not likely -- the answer would almost certainly be that the money was "invested" in the possibility that Bill or Hillary would one day be in a position to help Qualcomm out.

But maybe the speeches are really really good, as one might infer from Deutsche Bank, which apparently can't get enough of the Clintons.  Bill got $270,000 for a speech in Boston on August 27, and $150,000 for a speech in New York on September 9.  But that left them hungering for Hillary, who scooped up another $280,000 on October 7.

I initially found those four $181,250 MPSF events over Feb. 2-5 by Bill a bit suspicious, but those may well be the most "innocent" speeches of the lot.  MPSF is some kind of a speaker series, and year after year, they have reasonably famous people out there speaking.  Bill spoke there before in 2002, at $100,000 each for three speeches.

Clearly, his overall fee for this 2015 "work" was $725,000, and he divided it over 4 events.  I haven't quite figured it out, but it looks like he really did give four speeches in a row, including one on a Monday in Marin, and another on a Thursday in the same place (subscribers can choose the Monday or Thursday option).  Here's their website (; you can click around to get some information about past events (

These recent disclosures also reminded me about Chelsea Clinton's $75,000 speeches, which the Daily Show tells me are mostly about diarrhea  To her credit, her fees are apparently going to the Clinton Foundation. Of course, she doesn't really need the money -- up until recently, she's been "earning" $600,000 a year at NBC.

Anyway, back to the beginning -- "I gotta pay our bills"??  What kind of bills are they getting?  Each of these people "earns" more in one hour than 99 percent of the rest of us earn in an entire year.  They only had one kid, and that kid is long through college, and is making a pretty good living herself (see above).

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