Bill Clinton’s $450,000 Charity Speech

Bill Clinton GIVING Book Jacket Fundraising has been very, very good to Bill Clinton.

When London socialite Renu Mehta sought to urge Britain’s super-rich into giving more to charity, she threw a fundraising dinner headlined by former President Bill Clinton, who has used his global star power to encourage large-scale philanthropy that stresses accountability. Mehta declared the first gathering of her Fortune Forum, held Sept. 26, 2006, a rousing success. The event raised about $1.5 million and brought together dozens of billionaires, celebrities and activists to network about tackling such problems as global warming, water shortages and disaster relief.

But success came with a steep price. Fundraising costs consumed more than half of the proceeds, with $450,000 going to Clinton as a speaking fee, one of the largest he has collected as personal income, according to Sen. Hillary Clinton’s federal financial disclosure forms. Clinton’s fee for his Fortune Forum appearance dwarfed the $280,000 the former president charged for a speech earlier in the day in London sponsored by a for-profit partnership and the $280,000 he received the next day for a speech in Dublin.

“We were a charity, but he wouldn’t come without that, so we paid it,” said Vijay Mehta, a co-founder of the Fortune Forum who is Renu Mehta’s father. “If we had been charged less, we could have given a bit more” to charity.

[…]

Clinton’s fee included travel costs, and the former president agreed to deliver the speech “under the understanding that the honorarium would be underwritten by the head of the Fortune Forum and her family and would not be taken from the proceeds of the event,” Hillary Clinton spokesman Jay Carson said in an e-mail. Bill Clinton’s press office referred queries on the speech to his wife’s campaign.

“That’s rubbish,” Renu Mehta said in a telephone interview. “The contract was with Fortune Forum, not me.” Mehta said she agreed to guarantee Clinton’s fee in the event the dinner did not raise enough money to meet Clinton’s tab.

I guess this all just goes to reinforce the old adage that charity begins at home.

It’s odd that Clinton charged nearly double his normal appearance fee for a charity event, particularly one supporting a cause that he’s using to stake his post-presidential legacy. Frankly, it looks unseemly. At the same time, we don’t know how much Fortune Forum would have raised with a less high-profile but cheaper speaker; the net may still have worked out in their favor.

via Digg

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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.

Comments

  1. DL says:

    How about a cap of $100,000 per year in speaking fees for ex-presidents. Let them take the job for the reasons they are quick to talk about during the campaign -betterment of America and the world etc.

    And liberal Mccain is now running around trying to destroy CEO salaries. What a crazy world that any “conservative” can support such stuff.I guess it’s just a defense election – don’t let the Dems score.

  2. Bithead says:

    And where, I wonder are all the usual suspects with their chants of ‘eat the rich’. the clintons have had somehting on the order of 106 MUSD in the last seven years.

    Let’s apply to them the question that gets applied to CEO’s… What on earth have they done to merit that kind of income?

    That such standards have not been applied to them by the ones screaming abotu CEO pay, tels me all I need know about the left and double standards.

  3. William d'Inger says:

    This is just free market economics at work in the real world. He delivers a product people consider worth the price. As long as he can rake in megabucks, what’s the big deal over a little hypocrisy?

  4. David says:

    The article says he gave a speech earlier in the day. Maybe his higher fee had something to do with making him “work” twice as hard on that day.

    I’ll respectfully disagree with the previous commenter, however. I don’t have a problem with Clinton making oodles of money. He should be allowed to charge whatever the market is willing to pay for his services. As Dr. Joyner mentioned, this charity made the decision to pay over and above to ensure that it was Mr. Clinton and not someone else who spoke. If money was the issue, they could have chosen someone less expensive.

  5. DaveD says:

    I agree. He asked for the fee. It was voluntarily paid. Case closed.

  6. sam says:

    Well, he’s in good company. For you youngsters:

    From New York Times, Oct 26, 1989:

    Former President Ronald Reagan told Japanese audiences today that he welcomed Japanese investment in the United States and that Sony’s recent takeover of a big motion picture studio might even ”bring back decency and good taste” to American movies…

    Mr. Reagan arrived here on Friday as the guest of the Fujisankei Communications Group, a news media conglomerate whose owners are politically conservative supporters of the former President and his policies. The group is paying more than $6 million to bring Mr. Reagan and his wife, Nancy, to Japan, including a $2 million fee to Mr. Reagan himself.

  7. James Joyner says:

    Sam,

    No doubt. And Reagan was roundly criticized for cashing in this way; no president had done it before.

    Then again, Nancy wasn’t a United States Senator running for president, either. And it was a straight out corporate speech, not a charity fundraiser.

  8. Bithead says:

    James:

    Then again, Nancy wasn’t a United States Senator running for president, either. And it was a straight out corporate speech, not a charity fundraiser.

    True ’nuff. And yet, the idea that clinton made a huge profit here… far larger than Reagan did… is beyond question. And there’s the rub; Reagan’s followers, at least, never called proft a dirty word.

  9. Doubling your normal fee for a speech to an international banking congomerate, because you can, would all seem within the rules of the game. Doubling your normal fee for a speech to a charity, because you can, is a little unseemly.

  10. William d'Inger says:

    Doubling your normal fee for a speech to an international banking congomerate, because you can, would all seem within the rules of the game. Doubling your normal fee for a speech to a charity, because you can, is a little unseemly.

    That’s a perfect example of why liberals don’t and never will understand economics. They wish to interject emotion into a scientific equation. Fantasies like “living wage” and stuff are the economic equivalent of asking gravity to lighten up on minorities, children and the elderly in physics. The real world just does not work that way.

  11. Was I just called a liberal?

  12. Bithead says:

    I don’t know if he did, Charles, but there does seem a point you’re missing;
    True, it’s within bounds, to most folks. Trouble is, his supporters are not most folks, rather being people who will scream bloody murder about how obscene such salaries are when someone at the head end of a company makes them… but suddenly, it’s OK when the Clintons make similar numbers.

    It’s not the money, in short, it’s the hypocrisy of both the Clintons and their followers on the matter.