Bill Clinton Made Millions Overseas

Former president Bill Clinton got filthy, stinking rich by giving speeches to foreigners, AP reports.

Former President Bill Clinton speaks to the National Automobile Dealers Association during their meeting in New Orleans Monday, Jan. 26, 2009. (AP Photo/ Judi Bottoni)

Former President Bill Clinton speaks to the National Automobile Dealers Association during their meeting in New Orleans Monday, Jan. 26, 2009. (AP Photo/ Judi Bottoni)

Former President Bill Clinton earned nearly $6 million in speaking fees last year, almost all of it from foreign companies, according to financial documents filed by his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The documents obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press show that $4.6 million of the former president’s reported $5.7 million in 2008 honoraria came from foreign sources, including Kuwait’s national bank, other firms and groups in Canada, Germany, India, Malaysia, Mexico and Portugal and a Hong Kong-based company that spent $100,000 on federal lobbying last year.

Executives at many of the firms that paid honoraria to Bill Clinton have also donated large amounts of money to the Clinton Foundation, according to documents it released last year as part of an agreement with Congress on Hillary Clinton’s nomination as secretary of state. That agreement was aimed at preventing the appearance of any conflict of interest between the ex-president’s charitable organization and his wife’s new job as the United States’ top diplomat.


For one Power Within speech alone, delivered in Edmonton in June 2008, Clinton was paid $525,000, the most for any single event that year. For one event, he got $200,000 and for three others he received $175,000 each, the documents show. The Hong Kong firm, Hybrid Kinetic Automotive Holdings, paid Clinton a $300,000 honorarium on Dec. 4, 2008. Twenty five days later, on Dec. 29, a man listed as the company’s chief financial officer, Jack Xi Deng, made a $25,000 cash donation to the Virginia gubernatorial campaign of Clinton confidant Terry McAuliffe, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.

Good work if you can get it, I guess. I’m somewhat bemused that the photo YahooNews chose to illustrate the story is of him speaking to the National Auto Dealers Association and that their initials spell out a Spanish word meaning “nothing,” which almost surely is not what he was paid.  (Although de nada is often colloquially translated as “you’re welcome,” which, at these prices, I’m sure he says frequently.)

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. odograph says:

    Crimeny. I have a friend who was at that speech (NADA, pictured). He enjoyed the heck out of it, especially the half given by George Herbert Walker Bush. (Clinton’s first line was that he couldn’t get away telling the kind of [dirty] jokes GHWB can do. That got as big a laugh as the GHWB jokes.)

    Way to tilt the reporting.

    FWIW, my friend was also inspired by the genuine friendship between the two ex-Presidents.

  2. Scott Swank says:

    Compare that with Reagan’s $2 million from Fujisankei back in 1989 for perspective.

  3. Franklin says:

    While he’s busy closing the trade deficit all by himself, it also means that (surprise, surprise) the Clintons have a lot of conflicts of interest between them.

  4. John Burgess says:

    I’m pretty sure that Clinton got a $500K speaker’s fee for talking at the Jeddah Economic Forum in 2002 (possibly 03).

    Saudis thought his speech pandering and concluded that it was an enormous waste of money.

  5. steve s says:

    And I thought Malcolm Gladwell was overpaid at $40,000 a speech! (I saw him at Duke, btw. Good speech (It was about Blink), but I don’t know if it was worth 40 large)

    Yeah, it does help to compare Hollywood Ronald Reagan’s $2 million speech. But in any case, I can’t begrudge them that. As long as it wasn’t quid pro quo. If Al Qaeda offered me $2 million to give a speech on why America is The Devil I would probably take it. And it would be an easy speech to write–I’d just steal Rush Limbaugh and John Boner’s lines about how I wanted America to fail.

  6. steve s says:

    Off-topic: Yeah, I said a couple times that James Joyner should be the new conservative guy at the NYT. I thought I’d flesh that out a bit. The modern conservative movement talks to the echo chamber. When Hannity/Hewitt/Malkin etc write a column full of stupid lies, it’s just to the base. “Obama is a muslim! Obama loves terrorists!” etc. You could only believe that if you’re extremely stupid the GOP base. Joyner’s articles, on the other hand, are written to the community of intelligent people who think about things. That’s why he mentions, and argues against, contrary voices like Yglesias, Drum, etc. He’s trying to engage people in an intelligent argument. It’s this engagement with the intelligentsia that is very important for effective communication and the possibility of persuasion. If you just talk to the echo chamber, you’re preaching to the choir, and accomplishing little. The willingness to take on difficult challenges and engage with thinking people is what makes Joyner valuable. Keep it up Jimmy.

  7. markm says:

    Heh…hadda re-read the title. I first read it as ‘laid’ millions.

  8. Maggie Mama says:

    Clinton was hitting up the American taxpayer big time for things like his phone bill. 41 and Carter had telephone bills in the $17-19,000. range.

    But Clinton’s bill was $79,000. for one year. He was obviously calling all his overseas friends.

    Absolutely no oversight regarding the usage of phones: is he raising money for his library, for the Clinton Foundation, for his speaking tours, or is he doing “normal” former president business?

    We pay, Clinton plays.

  9. tom p says:

    heh… sometime in the past year Alberto Gonzales got $10K (maybe more) from Washington University Law School for a half hr…