This is how Clinton is cashing in on her star power as she weighs whether to run for the White House. The would-be Democratic front-runner is barnstorming the country, delivering speeches and answering questions at events sponsored by industry groups eager to gain access to someone who may be the next president.
Clinton is the only leading 2016 contender giving paid speeches, with at least 14 delivered or scheduled so far, in part because ethics rules prohibit sitting lawmakers from doing so. Past presidential contenders, such as Republicans Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty, gave relatively few such addresses, and for much lower five-figure fees.
A hectic speaking schedule is more common for those who have left electoral politics for good, including her husband, former president Bill Clinton — who has racked up tens of millions of dollars in speaking fees since leaving office — and other former secretaries of state, such as Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell and Madeleine Albright.
Most of the trade groups Clinton has addressed actively lobby Congress on issues both substantial and mundane. The American Society of Travel Agents, which Clinton will address in September, wants airlines to provide data to travel agencies about baggage and boarding fees. The National Multi Housing Council, which Clinton addressed in April, advocates, among other things, low-interest loans for those who deal with bedbug infestations.
When she spoke to the Society for Human Resource Management in June, association chief executive Hank Jackson said, “We were very pleased that most of her speech was tailored towards HR issues.”
“She didn’t realize how intimately involved we are in providing feedback to Congress on how immigration from a practical perspective — not from a political perspective — is affecting businesses’ ability to manage talent,” Jackson said. “Giving her that insight was something that she could take away from the meeting.”
Other audiences have many millions of dollars at stake in federal tax policies. In June, Clinton addressed an investor meeting in Los Angeles of KKR, the private-equity giant, and fielded questions from firm co-founder Henry Kravis. Her appearance, first reported by Politico, was confirmed by a KKR spokeswoman.
Clinton’s spokesman declined to talk publicly about her speaking schedule.