Politico needs to remind everyone that George W. Bush is getting paid a lot for speeches as well in his post-presidency. He was paid $100,000 to deliver a speech at a gala event for the Samaritan Inn, a Texas homeless shelter that also netted $1 million for the night. Oh, and Hillary Clinton was there for her usual $200-250k fee, along with “many entertainer and political figures, and they were much higher [in their rates],” according to Lynne Sipiora, the executive director for the Samaritan Inn:
Toward the end of his presidency, George W. Bush told Robert Draper, reporting for a book called Dead Certain, that he intended after vacating the Oval Office to “replenish the ol’ coffers.”
He said he could make “ridiculous” money on the lecture circuit.
“I don’t know what my dad gets, but it’s more than 50, 75” thousand dollars a speech, he said.
“Clinton’s making a lot of money,” he added.
As critics over the years have chided Bill Clinton and also his wife for the industriousness with which they have pursued opportunities to get paid a lot of money in this manner, Bush, too, has been doing exactly what he said he would be doing.
Since 2009, POLITICO has found, Bush has given at least 200 paid speeches and probably many more, typically pocketing $100,000 to $175,000 per appearance. The part-time work, which rarely requires more than an hour on stage, has earned him tens of millions of dollars.
Relative to the Clintons, though, he’s attracted considerably less attention, almost always doing his paid public speaking in private, in convention centers and hotel ballrooms, resorts and casinos, from Canada to Asia, from New York to Miami, from all over Texas to Las Vegas a bunch, playing his part in what has become a lucrative staple of the modern post-presidency.
He has talked to the National Grocers Association and the National Association for Home Care and Hospice and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores. He’s talked to global wealth management firms and multinational energy companies. He has talked to motivational seminars and boat builders and something called the Work Truck Show. He has talked to the chambers of commerce in San Diego and Wichita.
In February 2015, he was at the gala for the Texas homeless shelter, at the Intercontinental Hotel in Addison, outside Dallas. Sipiora, the executive director of the Samaritan Inn, called Bush’s fee of $100,000 a “bargain.”
“We looked at many entertainers and political figures, and they were much higher,” she said. “Hillary Clinton was, like, $250,000.
“We’re a homeless shelter, so it was a hefty fee for us, but we ended up netting over $1 million,” said Sipiora, who identified herself as one of the few Democrats in her area. “It was not a very political conversation. I’m sure he’s answered the same questions a million times. But he was very popular and charming and pleasant.” She said Bush sent her a prompt thank you note in which he mentioned her father by name.
In all, Bush has raked in about $15 million in speaking fees since 2009, but here’s the thing; Dubya isn’t running for president. He can’t. Yes, there may be some (for the sake of argument) conflicts of interest with some of the speaking engagements, as alluded by Politico, but they also cited the Clintons–and that’s the actual story.
With the Bushes and the entire 2016 field, there’s nothing the media can accuse them of that isn’t greater than the legal and ethical questions surrounding the Clintons and their dealings.
When you’re running for president and something like a highly sensitive business deal regarding the sale of a company whose involved in uranium production is brokered (and then you approve the deal because you were running the State Department)–while your husband is receiving a speaking fee from one of the participating parties; it should make one wonder if those allegations about foreign influence regarding the Clinton Foundation and the duo’s speaking fees are true.
[Image courtesy of The New York Times]
This isn’t an isolated incident.
Canadian Financier Frank Guistra has pledged millions to the Foundation. He also sits on their board of directors. Guistra helped found an oil company called Pacific Rubiales, which allegedly has been violating the rights of workers in Colombia. Clinton and Obama were against the Colombia-U.S. Free Trade agreement in the 2008 election, but after Obama’s win; both candidates switched their stances, especially Clinton after Rubiales and Guistra cut some checks to the donation, according to the International Business Times.
Does that look fishy, unethical, and a bit suspicious? Well, we’re still talking about it, so I guess it does.
Lastly, Bush may have received a $100k speaking fee for a homeless shelter, but this little tidbit is diminished after the New York Times reported what could be called a “shakedown” concerning the Clinton Foundation’s refusal to attend a charity gala unless Bill was paid his $500k fee in June of 2014. The charity, the Happy Hearts Fund, was founded to rebuild schools devastated by natural disaster after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. It even cost a little over $363,000 to organize; Bill’s fee was the most expensive item in the budget. Oh, and it amounted to a quarter of Happy Hearts’ donations for that evening.
Yes, ex-presidents usually do speaking engagements to make extra money as they exit public life. Yes, sometimes those fees can be quite large. But, George Bush isn’t running for president. He doesn’t have a nonprofit that’s been labeled a “slush fund.” He hasn’t approved arms deals after foreign governments have given to said fake, hypothetical Bush nonprofit, and both Laura and George of them were never in a position to approve certain foreign business deals that could have impacted national security policy (i.e. Uranium One deal) wherein speaking fees were involved.
Is the media so desperate to find something as equally ethically challenged as the Clintons that they’re willing to look through Bush’s speaking engagements? If so, the phrase "grasping at straws" has reached a new level. After all, they tried to go after the Rubios for their parking tickets.
Bonus: As Dan wrote earlier today, the New York Times endorsed Hillary in 2008 … after they donated $100k to the newspaper.