From the L.A. Times, by way of Republican operatives using FOIA to dig up old emails, we have our clearest view yet of what it looks when you hire a Clinton to give a speech. Between Bill and Hillary, they’ve banked over $150 million total, and yes, that’s a disgusting, gaudy number. But it turns out that when you look at the nitty-gritty details, it’s actually even more rage-inducing.
The Times managed to get its hands on a series of contracts and emails from a series of three speeches Clinton gave in the San Francisco area soon after his second term had ended. Two of these speeches were affiliated with local colleges, and another by a for-profit firm, and the documents went public thanks to FOIA requests by the Republican National Committee—a group obviously gearing up to discredit the Clintons ahead of the general election.
The findings, summarized:
1. Bill Clinton demanded a private jet to fly him from San Francisco to UC-Davis, which is a journey of 70 miles. A car, apparently, just would not do. UC-Davis obliged, but only after shaking the bushes to find someone who could lend them a plane, which they have never done since.
2. In a San Francisco hotel, Clinton made $1,400 worth of phone calls, and spent $700 at a dinner for two. Both fell under the category of reimbursable “expenses,” which Clinton’s people fought to have paid.
3. Clinton immediately asked for almost double the going rate for presidential speeches ($60,000 had been the standard), and has made as much as $750,000 per speech from corporations.
4. More offensive than the money (if that’s even possible), he and his team would demand total approval and veto power over the questions to be asked by the audience. One organizer, when he finally saw the list of approved questions, called them “terrible, and terrible general,” and said he was “embarrassed” to ask them. Examples:
“Through being President of the United States do you think your mission is completed? Do you foresee bigger personal and professional challenges ahead?”
“Is the world a better place now than when you entered politics, with a view to making a difference?”
When one of the moderators had a temerity to ask him a tough question, emails revealed that a Clinton advisor came on stage to “whack” him on the back and demand that they get Clinton off the stage.
5. Despite his high demands, Clinton and his team didn’t balk when one of the negotiators on the other side went racist, saying “our audiences are white, some of them have morals/ethics,” or when he made a Monica Lewinsky joke.
The documents make for a compelling read, so check those out. You can bet we’ll be hearing a lot more about this between now and November.