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WaPo Slams Clinton, But Not Giuliani, on Speaking Fees

February 23, 2007

Today's Washington Post features an interesting examination former President Bill Clinton's new-found wealth earned on the speakers' circuit and the implications for his wife Hillary's 2008 presidential campaign. But while Bill Clinton brought in almost $10 million in speaking fees last year, he's not running for anything. Rudy Giuliani, on the other hand, is running for the White House. And on the subject of his $8 million speaking bonanza in 2002 alone, the Post said nothing.
The Post's John Solomon and Matthew Mosk imply that the millions in fees and associated connections Clinton reaped last year will help fuel his wife's Hillary's presidential campaign:

Last year, one of his most lucrative since he left the presidency, Clinton earned $9 million to $10 million on the lecture circuit. He averaged almost a speech a day -- 352 for the year -- but only about 20 percent were for personal income. The others were given for no fee or for donations to the William J. Clinton Foundation, the nonprofit group he founded to pursue causes such as the fight against AIDS...
...The fortune they have amassed gives the Clintons a nest egg for the first time, and it allows them to tap into that wealth for a campaign if Hillary Clinton, as expected, forgoes public financing in her race for president. It also suggests a sometimes close connection between their personal finances and her political career.
Many of Bill Clinton's six-figure speeches have been made to companies whose employees and political action committees have been among Hillary Clinton's top backers in her Senate campaigns. The New York investment giant Goldman Sachs paid him $650,000 for four speeches in recent years. Its employees and PAC have given her $270,000 since 2000 -- putting it second on the list of her most generous political patrons.
The banking firm Citigroup, whose employees and PAC have been Hillary Clinton's top source of campaign donations, with more than $320,000, paid her husband $250,000 for a speech in France in 2004. Last year, it committed $5.5 million for Clinton's Global Initiative to help encourage entrepreneurship and financial education among the poor.

But while Solomon and Mosk point to the millions former Presidents Reagan and Bush raked in on the circuit, their piece is oddly silent on another New Yorker seeking the White House: Rudy Giuliani. As the Chicago Tribune reported, Giuliani's haul from speeches, consulting fees and book projects makes Bill Clinton's pot of gold look humble in comparison:

Neither Giuliani nor his representative, the Washington Speakers Bureau, would discuss his speaking fees or his schedule. But in his 2002 divorce filing, Giuliani estimated his annual income from public speaking at $8 million. The divorce filing also shows that Giuliani was to receive a $2.7 million advance to write his best-selling book, "Leadership," and a second book.
He commands $100,000 for a speech, not including expenses, which his star-struck clients are happily willing to pay. In one speech last year at Oklahoma State University, Giuliani requested and received travel on a private Gulfstream jet that cost the school $47,000 to operate. His visit essentially wiped out the student speakers annual fund.

More damning still is the almost predatory nature of Giuliani's junkets. While 80% of Bill Clinton's appearances are charitable or otherwise involve no fees, Rudy's speeches have often had a devastating financial impact on the very institutions he came to support. As the Tribune piece notes:

In another speech, at a charity fundraiser in South Carolina in February 2005, Giuliani also commanded a $100,000 fee, though he donated $20,000 of it to the event. After he was criticized by a local official, he ultimately decided to donate an additional $60,000.
Giuliani reportedly received more than $200,000 for another speech, given to benefit an Australian research hospital in 2003. When it was disclosed two years later that the hospital netted only $15,000, the revelation sparked widespread criticism in Australia. Months later, after the New York Observer picked up the story, Giuliani threw his own fundraiser for the hospital.

The implications for Giuliani's 2008 White House run, however, go well beyond his shocking speaking fees. The former New York City mayor pulls in millions in consulting fees with clients whose bankruptcy or security problems bring them into conflict with the very government Giuliani hopes to lead. Again, from the Tribune:

Beyond his speaking engagements, Giuliani, 62, has built a network of businesses that has earned millions of dollars in fees. The companies have counseled businesses from blue-chip multi-national corporations to start-up firms with penny stocks, providing advice on everything from bankruptcies to corporate security.
Giuliani's investment bank, Giuliani Capital Advisors, has reaped seven-figure fees for providing advice in bankruptcy cases, but it has seen payment requests trimmed by courts following complaints that the firm was seeking excessive compensation. Giuliani also has collected more than $1 million in consulting fees from firms tied to criminal or regulatory missteps.

Of all this, the Washington Post said nothing. And while the paper offers readers a complete list of President Clinton's speech fees and locations, the Giuliani camp remains silent. "His spokeswoman," the Tribune noted on February 8th, "side-stepped a question about whether Giuliani would fully disclose his clients if he formally enters the race."
UPDATE: Predictably, Tucker Carlson on MSNBC and CBS News ran with the WaPo story to attack Bill Clinton further. Media Matters provides more background.


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Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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