Adding ‘Husband of Secretary of State’ to His Title Made Bill Clinton Infinitely Cooler, Richer

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Former U.S. presidents Bill Clinton (L) and George W. Bush share a laugh during an event launching the Presidential Leadership Scholars program at the Newseum September 8, 2014 in Washington, DC. With the cooperation of the Clinton, Bush, Lyndon B. Johnson and George H. W. Bush presidential libraries and foundations, the new scholarship program will provide 'motivated leaders across all sectors an opportunity to study presidential leadership and decision making and learn from key administration officials, practitioners and leading academics.'  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Former U.S. presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush share a laugh during an event.Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

On Thursday, the Clintons faced a range of questions about their wealth — and the Clinton Foundation’s — and where it was coming from. A report from ABC News noted that the quantity of money was worth scrutinizing, too, although there has been no shortage of investigations into how much money the Clintons have been getting paid for speaking engagements the past few years.  

In the years immediately after Clinton’s presidency ended, he was collecting $150,000 a speech. After Hillary became secretary of State, he got as much as $750,000. 

As the Washington Posreported last year, Clinton made $104.9 million in speaking fees from January 2001 up until Hillary’s resignation from the State Department. Of that total, $47.7 million was earned during Hillary’s tenure in the Obama administration. 

In the year 2012 alone, Clinton earned $17 million. Hillary Clinton, unsurprisingly, was able to get big speaking fees after she stopped being secretary of State. An executive at Goldman Sachs, which paid Hillary to speak on multiple occasions, told the Washington Post“President Clinton’s always interesting, but there’s a lot more demand right now for her because she just came out of government and people want to hear about that, whether it’s Iran or Russia or the big challenges she’s faced, and about the dysfunction in Washington.”

Between January 2009 and May 2011, George W. Bush was earning an average of $110,000 per speech — making at least $15 million total. And several other former presidents have inspired head shakes because of speaking incomes. Ronald Reagan earned more than a million to speak to business leaders in Japan during a time when the U.S. was dealing with tough trade negotiations with Japan, as the Post notes. Being able to suddenly make bank — but being discouraged from doing so — is basically rite of passage for former presidents, although most of them don’t have to deal with the attention of a national campaign a decade later.

Will these revelations have any noticeable effect on Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid? At this point, who knows? Donors in New York asked Clinton advisers yesterday how allies should respond, and communications staff have already started to attack the allegations. John Cassidy wonders whether the new book by Peter Schweizer, Clinton Cash (which has inspired all these new stories), will only calcify the disapproval of voters who were never going to vote for Hillary anyway, and make Democrats feel more inclined to support her. "If, and when, Hillary Clinton falls back on the old argument that it’s all a right-wing conspiracy against her and her family," he writes, "many people might well be prepared to take her at her word."

ABC News also uncovered a few errors in Schweizer’s book, which the author said will be corrected, but will also make it far easier for Clinton to bat away the claims. The author, Bloomberg reported yesterday, is planning on writing another 2016-themed book on Jeb Bush’s financial history. “We’ve found some interesting things,” he said, showing how even if Clinton is never going to outrun questions about her finances, she can at least take comfort in the fact that a presidential race featuring two people related to presidents tends to spread the scrutiny a little bit.