Social Question

JLeslie's avatar

Why do people care that a politician earned money giving speeches?

Asked by JLeslie (59780points) April 15th, 2016 from iPhone

I don’t understand why it’s a big deal that a political candidate earned money making a speech. I keep hearing about Hillary Clinton making money giving speeches to Wall Street, and a call for her to release transcripts from the speeches. I can see people being interested in the transcripts, but I don’t understand looking down on a candidate for working and earning money, especially when they are no longer in office. I can see an argument against while they are still in office.

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27 Answers

jerv's avatar

I guess it depends on whether or not character matters when selecting a candidate. Having close ties to Wall Street calls into question where a candidate’s true loyalties lay. So long as those transcripts are a secret, it’s perfectly valid to question Hillary’s allegiances.

Now, if Hillary ran as a Republican, it wouldn’t be an issue since so many conservatives feel that what is good for Wall Street is good for America. (It would also mean that her party affiliation would match her voting record.) If Hillary wasn’t running for office, it would definitely be nothing worth paying attention to; the fact that she is making money instead of just living off of the pensions she earned as a Senator and a Secretary isn’t the issue here. It’s the fact that she is running for the Democratic nomination for President that makes her paid speeches a big deal.

Oh, there is also the small matter of campaign finance rules. They have some pretty funny restrictions about that, and it’s best to keep things as simple as possible to avoid even the appearance of impropriety, but with those paid speeches, there are ways to do a little creative bookkeeping to evade oversight. It may be nothing nefarious, but it’s definitely something that deserves enough scrutiny to meet some people’s definition of “a big deal”.

JLeslie's avatar

@jerv Your answer specifically answers concerns about ties with Wall Street, but Hillary is not the only politician this issue of making money on speeches comes up. It appears to me some people just have a problem with making money giving a speech period. Why? Or, am I interpreting what people and the media say incorrectly? These people aren’t always focused on where the speech was given, but very focused on the amount of money earned doing it. I don’t get it.

LostInParadise's avatar

I have not seen anyone complaining about paid speeches in general. The problem comes with paid speeches for special interest groups.

JLeslie's avatar

Why do they even bring up the fact that it’s paid?

Seek's avatar

The only issue I know about is Hillary.

She was paid $200,000 for a 20 minute speech in front of Goldman Sachs.

That’s a lot of money.

What did she say in that speech that makes it worth 1/5 of a million dollars?

What promises were made in return for that money?

Why does someone trying to run on a democratic platform of “telling Wall Street to stop it” have a problem revealing why a major wall Street corporation is willing to pay them 10,000 dollars a MINUTE to talk to them?

Jak's avatar

Because the hidden truth is that the money is not for the speech. The speech is an excuse to give/accept the money. It’s a lie that everyone knows about but pretends otherwise. It’s all part of an elaborate sham.

JLeslie's avatar

@Seek Lots of former politicians make money for speeches. I found this list of former Presidents. The link mentions the ever famous $1million Pres. Reagan was paid for a speech.

@Jak That makes sense. Although, I don’t think that’s always the case. I don’t think President Carter is charging money for that reason. It goes to charity, maybe he kept some money over the years as income for himself.

Seek's avatar

And if Reagan were running for President again I’d want to know what that speech was about.

She isn’t a former politician. She’s currently running for president, specifically on a platform against Wall Street. So, she’s either a liar-liar-pants-on-fire, or she got Goldman Sachs to pay her $200,000 to tell them to shove it.

JLeslie's avatar

@Seek Yeah, I get that. I’m just saying they talk about the money no matter what the situation. People talked about Reagan with disgust about how much he earned for that speech. Hillary’s husband was a former President when he did it. Everyone was up in arms about him too when he was first out of office.

Seek's avatar


DoNotKnowMuch's avatar

transcript of one of the speeches

Seek's avatar

You’re either deflecting the point, or missing it. I can’t decide which.

JLeslie's avatar

@Seek I’m not deflecting or missing it. I’m not only talking about Hillary. You are. I agree it might be a cover to be influenced by Wall Street in the case of Hillary.

I asked about politicians, plural, and gave her as an example. I didn’t mention former politicians in my Q, but I had that in my mind too, because I specifically remembered the uproar about Bill and Reagan.

Seek's avatar

In that case, my answer to the direct question is, “If they are not currently running for office, I don’t care if they’re slinging Molly for $25 a pop at rave parties, but if you’re running for president you better expect to be held accountable for your income.”

rojo's avatar

I think, at least from a personal perspective, @Jak described my feelings about it.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I, too, remember the uproar about Reagan and Bill Clinton, but the current brouhaha is about Hillary. This is simply another way to hate her. They’ve been slinging mud at her for 25 or 30 years, and yet she’s still standing. She’s been under investigation for almost that long, yet she’s still standing. If there were any truth to the allegations against her, she’d be in jail.

To directly answer the OP, I’ll say I think it’s fine. When we say they can’t earn money, it’s just envy that we aren’t earning money so easily.

Judi's avatar

Personally I think that the issue is the exhorbadant amount of money she received. People don’t spend that kind of money without expecting something out of it. What they get is an answered phone call. Something most of us don’t get. They get an opportunity to plead their case while the rest of us get a staffer checking clicks on a sheet of paper telling her if callers are for or against a certain issue.
If she got only maybe $1000 a speech she might not be as inclined to listen to their lobbyist for half an hour. Someone willing to pay 40–50K for an hour is more likely to be heard.

Seek's avatar

To paraphrase the link in @DoNotKnowMuch ‘s last response:

While First Lady, Clinton changed Bill’s administration’s support for a bankruptcy bill (in favor of banks and against families) to a veto.

While Senator, Clinton voted in favor of it.

Because y’know, whatever is best for her at the time.

Seek's avatar

Oh my gosh. The video that auto-played after this was George Stephanopoulos asking Hilary about that interview with Warren, and she went on this completley inane rant about “the Sanders campaign” spreading “innuendo” about her.

The Sanders campaign. In 2004.

Bernie Sanders is apparently a Time Lord.

DoNotKnowMuch's avatar

Also relevant… do you remember when Clinton supported single-payer? What could possibly have changed her mind about the issue?

DoNotKnowMuch's avatar

@Hawaii_Jake: “To directly answer the OP, I’ll say I think it’s fine. When we say they can’t earn money, it’s just envy that we aren’t earning money so easily.”

Do you really feel that the left/progressives are opposed to Hillary out of envy, rather than a basic understanding of how politics works and the corrupting influence of money?

JLeslie's avatar

Since I prefer incomes to be flatter, not so many people paid very little and other people at the top making huge amounts, I’d prefer a person wouldn’t make $1million for a speech. However, since our system is set up how it is, I’m not going to criticize a politician for getting paid a lot once out of office. In office or while campaigning I can see the possible ethical dilemma.

I think Republicans who are all for make as much money as you can are hypocrites if they negatively criticize Bill or Hillary or whomever for doing it. Either you believe greed at any extreme makes the US the best country in the world or you don’t.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Because the fees too frequently amount to payoffs for services rendered or bribes toward future expectations.

jerv's avatar

@JLeslie If you do not understand why it is a big deal for a Democrat yet considered normal for a Republican, then you do not understand the current state of politics in 2016 America.

Good day.

JLeslie's avatar

@jerv I’m not sure what you mean. Ok with who?

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