Who will be paying Hillary?

As the former secretary begins a speaking career, we'll learn a lot from her corporate client roster

Topics: Hillary Clinton, Corruption, Bill Clinton, Walmart, speaking circuit,

Who will be paying Hillary?

The news yesterday that Hillary Clinton is going through the revolving door to make huge money on the speaking circuit is an important reminder of one of the most pernicious forms of political corruption — the kind that holds out the promise of later riches to those who follow corporate orders while still in office.

At this point, the Clintons are the shining example of how this quiet but nonetheless powerful corruption system works. As USA Today this week noted, Bill Clinton has become one of the wealthiest presidents in American history, thanks to the fact that since leaving office, he “has earned more than $125 million before taxes, with the vast majority of that coming from speaking fees.”

That term “speaking fees” is a sanitized phrase that evokes images of earnest college lectures and graduation orations. But for the most part, the term really refers to a corporate payoff, either for a job well done in office, or for a former politician to add his name to the corporate brand.

Bill Clinton’s post-presidency shows how it works. A man who spent his entire life in the public sector and who has no business experience whatsoever is raking in big paychecks from the financial industries he helped in office, and from corporate interest groups he can help today. That’s right, in its story about Hillary Clinton’s announcement, the New York Daily News reports that the former president’s “appearances included $200,000 speeches to Wells Fargo Bank in New York, PhRMA in Jersey City, TD Ameritrade in Las Vegas … $225,000 for a speech to Whiskey Productions on Grand Cayman, $500,000 for an address to the Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative and $750,000 for a speech to Swedish telecom company Ericsson in Hong Kong.”

In a must-read piece about the Clintons and how the former president traded legislative favors for post-presidency cash, the inimitable Matt Stoller captures how the system works — and how so many ignore its impact on the political process:



Most activists and political operatives are under a delusion about American politics, which goes as follows. Politicians will do *anything* to get reelected, and they will pander, beg, borrow, lie, cheat and steal, just to stay in office. It’s all about their job.

This is 100% wrong. The dirty secret of American politics is that, for most politicians, getting elected is just not that important. What matters is post-election employment. It’s all about staying in the elite political class, which means being respected in a dense network of corporate-funded think tanks, high-powered law firms, banks, defense contractors, prestigious universities, and corporations. If you run a campaign based on populist themes, that’s a threat to your post-election employment prospects.

So when you hear someone talking about how politicians just want to be reelected, roll your eyes…That’s not what politicians really care about…The reason Obama won’t prosecute bankers, or run anything but a very mild sort of populism, is because he’s not really talking to voters…He’s really talking to the people who made Bill and Hillary Clinton a very wealthy couple, his future prospective clients.

We don’t call it bribery, but that’s what it is. Bill Clinton made a lot of money when he signed the bill deregulating derivatives and repealed Glass-Steagall. The payout just came later, in the form of speaking fees from elite banks and their allies.

There have been occasional pay-to-play questions about whether Hillary Clinton (as distinct from her husband and his administration) has used her governmental positions to defend the interests of her old corporate client Wal-Mart (most recently, for instance, she used her secretary of state office to push India to defy domestic mass protests and allow the retail giant into the country). But with her speaking announcement, the question about Clinton will be whether the other kind of corruption is at work — the kind that doesn’t pay upfront, but pays on the back end (or at least, in the interim between her time holding office and possibly running for president in 2016).

We can’t know if that corruption is operating, of course, until we see which corporations ultimately pay her for speeches. Only then can journalists retrospectively compare her record dealing with myriad corporate issues as a U.S. senator and secretary of state to her new client roster. That, no doubt, is why, whether with respect to the Clintons or any other politicians, this other kind of corruption is so insidious; most often, the public can only see it after the fact, if at all. Not only that, it operates on a deeper level than just a standard pay to play scheme. Indeed, whether it is regulatory capture and a revolving door at the Securities and Exchange Commission or “speaking fees” to retiring politicians, the promise of future riches to corporate-compliant officials rigs public policy decision making at the most base psychological level.

Because of that, special interests don’t need to worry as much about buying congressional votes with campaign contributions or running an intense lobbying campaign for their legislative agenda. Their implicit promise already lets every potential decision maker in Washington know that there are irresistible benefits to shutting up and toeing the corporate line, which is why so often those decision makers do just that.

David Sirota

David Sirota is a senior writer for the International Business Times and the best-selling author of the books "Hostile Takeover," "The Uprising" and "Back to Our Future." E-mail him at ds@davidsirota.com, follow him on Twitter @davidsirota or visit his website at www.davidsirota.com.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 14
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Pilot"

    One of our first exposures to uncomfortable “Girls” sex comes early, in the pilot episode, when Hannah and Adam “get feisty” (a phrase Hannah hates) on the couch. The pair is about to go at it doggy-style when Adam nearly inserts his penis in “the wrong hole,” and after Hannah corrects him, she awkwardly explains her lack of desire to have anal sex in too many words. “Hey, let’s play the quiet game,” Adam says, thrusting. And so the romance begins.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Elijah, "It's About Time"

    In an act of “betrayal” that messes up each of their relationships with Hannah, Marnie and Elijah open Season 2 with some more couch sex, which is almost unbearable to watch. Elijah, who is trying to explore the “hetero side” of his bisexuality, can’t maintain his erection, and the entire affair ends in very uncomfortable silence.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Charlie, "Vagina Panic"

    Poor Charlie. While he and Marnie have their fair share of uncomfortable sex over the course of their relationship, one of the saddest moments (aside from Marnie breaking up with him during intercourse) is when Marnie encourages him to penetrate her from behind so she doesn’t have to look at him. “This feels so good,” Charlie says. “We have to go slow.” Poor sucker.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and camp friend Matt, "Hannah's Diary"

    We’d be remiss not to mention Shoshanna’s effort to lose her virginity to an old camp friend, who tells her how “weird” it is that he “loves to eat pussy” moments before she admits she’s never “done it” before. At least it paves the way for the uncomfortable sex we later get to watch her have with Ray?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Hard Being Easy"

    On the heels of trying (unsuccessfully) to determine the status of her early relationship with Adam, Hannah walks by her future boyfriend’s bedroom to find him masturbating alone, in one of the strangest scenes of the first season. As Adam jerks off and refuses to let Hannah participate beyond telling him how much she likes watching, we see some serious (and odd) character development ... which ends with Hannah taking a hundred-dollar bill from Adam’s wallet, for cab fare and pizza (as well as her services).

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Booth Jonathan, "Bad Friend"

    Oh, Booth Jonathan -- the little man who “knows how to do things.” After he turns Marnie on enough to make her masturbate in the bathroom at the gallery where she works, Booth finally seals the deal in a mortifying and nearly painful to watch sex scene that tells us pretty much everything we need to know about how much Marnie is willing to fake it.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Tad and Loreen, "The Return"

    The only sex scene in the series not to feature one of the main characters, Hannah’s parents’ showertime anniversary celebration is easily one of the most cringe-worthy moments of the show’s first season. Even Hannah’s mother, Loreen, observes how embarrassing the situation is, which ends with her husband, Tad, slipping out of the shower and falling naked and unconscious on the bathroom floor.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and the pharmacist, "The Return"

    Tad and Loreen aren’t the only ones to get some during Hannah’s first season trip home to Michigan. The show’s protagonist finds herself in bed with a former high school classmate, who doesn’t exactly enjoy it when Hannah puts one of her fingers near his anus. “I’m tight like a baby, right?” Hannah asks at one point. Time to press pause.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Role-Play"

    While it’s not quite a full-on, all-out sex scene, Hannah and Adam’s attempt at role play in Season 3 is certainly an intimate encounter to behold (or not). Hannah dons a blond wig and gets a little too into her role, giving a melodramatic performance that ends with a passerby punching Adam in the face. So there’s that.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and Ray, "Together"

    As Shoshanna and Ray near the end of their relationship, we can see their sexual chemistry getting worse and worse. It’s no more evident than when Ray is penetrating a clothed and visibly horrified Shoshanna from behind, who ends the encounter by asking if her partner will just “get out of me.”

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Frank, "Video Games"

    Hannah, Jessa’s 19-year-old stepbrother, a graveyard and too much chatting. Need we say more about how uncomfortable this sex is to watch?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Desi, "Iowa"

    Who gets her butt motorboated? Is this a real thing? Aside from the questionable logistics and reality of Marnie and Desi’s analingus scene, there’s also the awkward moment when Marnie confuses her partner’s declaration of love for licking her butthole with love for her. Oh, Marnie.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Vagina Panic"

    There is too much in this scene to dissect: fantasies of an 11-year-old girl with a Cabbage Patch lunchbox, excessive references to that little girl as a “slut” and Adam ripping off a condom to ejaculate on Hannah’s chest. No wonder it ends with Hannah saying she almost came.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>