In one of her last gigs on the paid lecture circuit, Hillary Rodham Clinton addressed an eBay summit aimed at promoting women in the workplace, delivering a 20-minute talk that garnered her a $315,000 payday from the company.
Less than two months later, Clinton was feted at the San Francisco Bay-area home of eBay chief executive John Donahoe and his wife, Eileen, for one of the first fundraisers supporting Clinton’s newly announced presidential campaign.
The two events spotlight the unusually close financial ties between Clinton and a broad array of industries that have issues before the government and paid millions of dollars to her and her husband, former president Bill Clinton, in the months preceding the launch of her presidential campaign.
Disclosure documents filed by Hillary Clinton last week revealed that the couple have earned about $25 million for delivering 104 paid speeches since January 2014.
While Bill Clinton’s lucrative speaking career since leaving the White House in 2001 has been well documented, the new disclosures offer the first public accounting of Hillary Clinton’s paid addresses since she stepped down as secretary of state. And they illustrate how the Clintons have personally profited by drawing on the same network of supporters who have backed their political campaigns and philanthropic efforts — while those supporters have gained entree to a potential future president.
Silicon Valley is one place where those overlapping interests come together, according to a Washington Post analysis of the new Clinton disclosures.
Out of the $11.7 million that Hillary Clinton has made delivering 51 speeches since January 2014, $3.2 million came from the technology industry, the analysis found. Several of the companies that paid Clinton to address their employees also have senior leaders who have been early and avid supporters of her presidential bid.
The tech sector was the largest single source of speaking fees for Clinton, followed by health care and financial services, according to the Post analysis. Bill Clinton also made substantial income speaking to tech groups but focused more heavily on financial services, insurance and real estate companies.
A Hillary Clinton campaign spokesman declined to comment.
While it is common for former presidents to receive top dollar as paid speakers, Hillary Clinton is unique as a prospective candidate who received large personal payouts from corporations, trade groups and other major interests mere months before launching a White House bid. In some cases, those speeches gave Clinton a chance to begin sounding out themes of her coming campaign and even discuss policy issues that a future Clinton administration might face.
Companies that paid her to speak include industry giants such as Xerox, Cisco Systems and Qualcomm, as well as start-ups and trade groups focused on biotechnology and medical technology.
The blurred line between personal and political is apparent in the cases of companies that hired Clinton to speak and are connected to prominent backers of her campaign. Salesforce.com, for instance, paid Clinton $451,000 to deliver two talks last year, and its CEO, Marc Benioff, is a major donor to Ready for Hillary, a super PAC that laid the groundwork for her presidential bid. Another major backer of the PAC is Irwin Jacobs, the former chairman of Qualcomm, which shelled out $335,000 for Clinton to speak in late October.
A spokeswoman for Salesforce declined to comment on how Clinton came to be invited to speak. Qualcomm did not return requests for comment. A spokeswoman for Jacobs said that he is retired from the company and does not play a role in its decisions.
When Clinton arrived at eBay for her March 2014 women’s-leadership speech, she had another connection to the company. Eileen Donahoe, wife of the CEO, had worked for Clinton as U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Council.
Abby Smith, spokeswoman for eBay, said that, “as one of the world’s most admired women, Hillary Clinton was the perfect choice” for the event. Smith declined to comment on the Donahoes’ fundraiser for the Clinton campaign.
The new disclosures showed Clinton’s vast earning power on the public speaking circuit as a former secretary of state who many viewed as the Democratic presidential nominee in waiting.
In some cases, organizations that had once paid Bill Clinton to speak now paid even more to lure his wife.
The Biotechnology Industry Organization paid Bill Clinton $175,000 in 2010. Four years later, the group paid $335,000 — nearly twice as much — to hear from Hillary Clinton. Likewise, the Advanced Medical Technology Association paid Bill Clinton $160,000 to speak in 2009 and paid Hillary Clinton $265,000 to speak in 2014.
The warm reception for Hillary Clinton in Silicon Valley comes after she watched a young upstart named Barack Obama lock up many of the industry’s top money players during their fight for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.
Since then, the region has experienced explosive growth, making it an even bigger target for candidates hunting for political donors. Republicans such as Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and former Florida governor Jeb Bush are making a play to win over the traditionally left-leaning enclave.
But Clinton is not giving them much of an opening, assiduously courting tech leaders as she contemplated another White House run.
One day last July, she tweeted, “In #SiliconValley today visiting @Google, @Facebook, & @Twitter. Looking forward to seeing everyone and answering some questions.”
Clinton did not receive any speaking fees from those companies, which she visited as part of a tour promoting her latest book, “Hard Choices.”
But about a month later, she scooped up $625,000 in one day from the tech sector — first addressing a conference in San Francisco sponsored by Nexenta Systems, a data storage start-up, and then as a surprise guest at Cisco’s sales conference in Las Vegas, where she was interviewed by chief executive John Chambers.
Cisco spokesman David McCullough said the company has “routinely invited global leadership figures” to participate in internal events, noting that past speakers have included former president George W. Bush and former prime minister Tony Blair of Britain.
At the Nexenta conference, Clinton addressed several hot-button policy issues in Silicon Valley that the next president will have to confront.
She spoke of the need to “rebalance” privacy and security when it comes to government surveillance, an issue viewed as both a business and philosophical matter among tech leaders. And she expressed interest in an idea proposed by Chambers and other chief executives to allow companies to bring profits invested overseas back to the United States at a reduced tax rate.
“It doesn’t do our economy any good to have this money parked somewhere else in the world,” Clinton said, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The event also provided Clinton, who was making few public appearances, a platform to weigh in on an increasingly hot national issue. In her first remarks about the unrest that followed the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., she urged Americans not to ignore “inequities that persist in our justice system.”
Allison Darin, director of communications for Nexenta, said that the topic “has nothing to do with what we do.”
But, she added, “it was obviously compelling news which brought a lot of attention to the event, which is exactly what we want.”
Tarkan Maner, the company’s chief executive, sits on the national finance committee of the Ready for Hillary PAC and made a $5,000 donation to the group in September, about a month after Clinton’s speech.
Darin said Maner’s support for Clinton had nothing to do with the company’s invitation to have her speak. Rather, she said, company officials decided Clinton would have broad appeal for the audience of 500 top executives who attended the conference.
“It really wasn’t politically focused at that time,” she said. “It was just good timing.”
Most of Clinton’s paid speeches were closed to the public and the press. But in the few that were open, Clinton appeared to be road-testing themes that would become a part of her upcoming campaign.
In an April 2014 speech at a technology conference sponsored by Marketo, a software branding company, she discussed the growing gap between rich and poor in the United States. According to news reports, she proposed changes to taxation and corporate policies to address the issue.
“Inequality of the kind we are experiencing is bad for individuals, bad for society, bad for democracy,” she said, according to the New York Times. “If you look around the world, this is becoming a bigger issue everywhere.”
The latest disclosures do not include instances in which Bill or Hillary Clinton donated their speaking fee to benefit the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation. But a foundation official said Monday that the organization later this week will release a list of speeches given by all three to benefit the foundation, totaling around 100 engagements since 2002.
Hillary Clinton’s latest financial disclosures also highlight the extent of personal support she and her husband have received from organizations and individuals who have donated to their charity.
At least 72 organizations that have paid the Clintons for speeches since 2001 have also donated to the Clinton Foundation.
For example, Cisco, which paid Hillary Clinton $325,000 for her August appearance, has given the foundation between $1 million and $5 million. In 2011, the company paid Bill Clinton $210,000 to speak at an event on Kiawah Island in South Carolina.
As for eBay, the company’s charitable foundation has given more than $50,000 to the Clinton Foundation.