Former president Barack Obama will give a lucrative speech at the Cantor Fitzgerald's health-care conference in September, his senior adviser Eric Schultz confirmed in a statement Wednesday.
Fox Business News first reported news of the appearance Monday, estimating that Obama would get $400,000 for speaking at the Wall Street conference. Obama's aides did not say how much he would be receiving for the speech.
“As we announced months ago, President Obama will deliver speeches from time to time. Some of those speeches will be paid, some will be unpaid, and regardless of venue or sponsor, President Obama will be true to his values, his vision and his record,” Schultz said, adding that Obama had accepted the invitation to appear at the conference “because, as a president who successfully passed health insurance reform, it’s an issue of great importance to him.”
News of Obama's speech sparked debate, particularly on social media, over whether he was cashing in, with critics likening his scheduled appearance before Cantor Fitzgerald to speeches that Hillary Clinton was criticized for giving to Wall Street firms after leaving her job as secretary of state but before officially running for president in 2016.
“With regard to this or any speech involving Wall Street sponsors, I’d just point out that in 2008, Barack Obama raised more money from Wall Street than any candidate in history — and still went on to successfully pass and implement the toughest reforms on Wall Street since FDR,” Schultz said. “And while he’ll continue to give speeches from time to time, he’ll spend most of his time writing his book and, as he said in Chicago this week, focusing his post-presidency work on training and elevating a new generation of political leaders in America.”
Obama is represented by the Harry Walker Agency, and while his office has not disclosed what he is charging for speeches, past presidents have charged hundreds of thousands of dollars for individual appearances. Bill Clinton, according to federal disclosure forms, averaged more than $200,000 per appearance for much of the last 15 years.
The first paid appearance Obama is doing is a conversation with the historian Doris Kearns Goodwin — with whom he met multiple times while in office — before the staff of the A&E television network.
Michelle Obama, for her part, will deliver her first paid speech Friday in Orlando, at a meeting of the American Institute of Architects.