As Hillary Rodham Clinton prepares to run for president, her political and family finances have come under scrutiny—especially the Clinton’s ties to Wall Street. Those connections are complex. They include not just her political fundraising and paid public speaking appearances, but also the Clinton Foundation and her son-in-law’s hedge fund.
Workers in the finance, insurance and real estate industries donated $21 million to Hillary’s 2008 presidential campaign, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Securities and investment workers were her third largest source of campaign donations behind lawyers and retirees. Citigroup Inc. (C) employees donated $765,192, more than employees of any other company. Goldman Sachs (GS) employees were next, with donations of $682,990. DLA Piper was in fourth place, Morgan Stanley (MS) was fifth and JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM) was sixth. However, a review of filings from Ready for Hillary, a political action committee, shows few banker or investor supporters. Clinton associate Tom Nides, a Morgan Stanley executive, has begun lining up support and donations for Hillary on Wall Street, according to a November report in Politico.
Speeches Prove Boon for Family Finances
Wall Street has also played a role in helping the Clintons rebuild their personal finances. Hillary Clinton has said that by the time President Bill Clinton’s presidency ended in January 2001, the family was “dead broke.” Between 2000 and 2008, however, Bill and Hillary had jointly earned $109 million. Some of that fortune came from the speaker circuit, where Wall Street firms have been eager clients.
In 2011 and 2012, Bill Clinton gave paid speeches at companies including American Express (AXP), Bank of America Corp. (BAC), Deutsche Bank AG (DB), Goldman Sachs, HSBC Holdings plc (HSBC), JPMorgan Chase, Jefferies LLC, the Mortgage Bankers Association, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Pershing LLC, TD Bank (TD)., the Vanguard Group, UBS AG and Wells Fargo & Company (WFC). His starting fee, per speech, was $165,000. Mrs. Clinton also became a paid speaker after she left the State Department in 2013. Since then, she’s been paid a reported fee of roughly $200,000 per speech for clients including Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan.
Critics say the speeches are a way for special interest groups to buy access to a presidential candidate. "You and I, most of the people we know, there's no way in hell we can afford to have Clinton come speak and spend time with us," Meredith McGehee, policy director at the Campaign Legal Center, told Mother Jones. "This speaking engagement game is a game that favors the wealthy interests, just like our campaign finance system."
Clients Welcome to Donate to Charities
Bill Clinton started a public health non-profit in 2002 that has since grown into The Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation. The Clinton Global Initiative, which holds forums for international leaders, was separately incorporated from the foundation in 2010 at the request of the Obama Administration while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State. After she stepped down as secretary of state, the two funds were reunited.
The Clinton Global Initiative discloses its donors by range, not by specific amount. Barclays Capital, Citi Foundation and Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund have all given the Clinton's foundation between $1 million and $5 million. Bank of America Foundation, Barclays PLC, Citigroup Inc., McKinsey & Company and UBS Wealth Management USA have given between $500,000 and $1 million. Meanwhile, Deutsche Bank AG, Deutsche Bank Americas, Goldman Sachs Philanthropy Fund and Morgan Stanley Smith Barney Global Impact Funding Trust Inc. have all given between $251,000 and $500,000.
Son in Law’s Hedge Fund
Chelsea Clinton’s husband, Goldman Sachs alum Marc Mezvinsky, is a founding partner in Eaglevale Partners LP, a $400 million hedge fund launched in 2011. A New York Times report found that “tens of millions of dollars raised by Eaglevale can be attributed to investors with some relationship or link to the Clintons.”
Among those investors are hedge fund managers Marc Lasry and James Leitner; an overseas money management firm connected to the Rothschild family; and Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd C. Blankfein. Rock Creek Group, a Washington-based investment advisory firm that briefly sublet office space to Mrs. Clinton after she stepped down as Secretary of State, placed $13 million from the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) and another public pension fund with Eaglevale in late 2011 and early 2012, according to the Times. The pension funds have subsequently withdrawn their investments; CalPERS left as it moved money away from hedge funds.
The Bottom Line
The Wall Street ties that could be a great source of cash for a 2016 Clinton presidential campaign also leave her open to criticism.