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.