Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said Thursday that she was “troubled” by former president Barack Obama’s decision to accept $400,000 for a speaking engagement, telling a progressive host on Sirius XM that it was more evidence of money’s malign political influence.
“I was troubled by that,” Warren said on “Alter Family Politics,” in an interview promoting her new book, “This Fight is Our Fight.”
“One of the things I talk about in the book is the influence of money — I describe it as a snake that slithers through Washington,” Warren said. “The influence of dollars on this place s what scares me. I feel like it ultimately threatens democracy.”
Eric Schultz, a spokesman for the former president, had already attempted to cool down critics of the Obama speech.
“Regardless of venue or sponsor, President Obama will be true to his values, his vision, and his record,” Schultz said in a Wednesday evening statement. “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.”
That did not mollify progressives who saw Obama, still in his 50s and involved with Democratic politics, making a moral and political mistake. Accidentally or not, Schultz’s line echoed Hillary Clinton’s own defense of her speaking fees in the interregnum between her secretary of state tenure and her 2016 campaign.
“Taking this money makes it clear what Obama believes, and what Democrats bought into when they invested so heavily into his administration and its policies,” wrote progressive commentator and former Sen. Bernie Sanders staffer Matt Stoller. “It draws a consistent line from the unsatisfying policy framework of Obama’s administration to what actually animated it. Not 13 dimensional chess, not GOP obstruction, but a philosophy that Democrats find distasteful on its own merits.”