Alana Goodman in the Washington Free Beacon today reports that Bill Clinton gave some thirty speeches for fees totaling $7 million, but that the actual identities of the sponsors is a “mystery.” The speaking fees were apparently routed through speakers bureaus and other entities, which the Clintons reported on Hillary’s disclosure forms as the source, obscuring the actual payer of the fees. From the article:
Ken Boehm, chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center, a government watchdog group, said the way the Clintons have handled these paid speaking engagements “suggests secrecy and non-transparency.”
“While those paying the exorbitant fees have included special interests with lobbying efforts to influence federal policy, even more troubling is the fact that the true financial sponsors are sometimes hidden through cut-out middlemen or anonymous donors,” said Boehm. “The tens of millions in speaking fees going directly to the Clintons should be completely transparent. Anything less suggests unethical conduct.”
Goodman cites an example demonstrating the potential for corruption that such an arrangement provides. In 2009, Bill Clinton received $250,000 for a speech in London on behalf a cricket charity, but the charity didn’t put up the money. The fee was paid by a wealthy British businessman named Robert Whitton. According to the article:
In Whitton’s case, one of his newly-launched projects—a luxury development on protected land in St. Lucia—was facing a maze of red tape in the UNESCO World Heritage Committee.
The State Department oversees U.S. policy toward UNESCO, appoints the American ambassador to the agency, and provides nearly a quarter of the group’s annual budget. At the time, the United States was also one of the 21 voting members of UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee, a four-year term.