Factcheck: Do Past Secretaries of State Make as Much for Speeches as Hillary Clinton?

Clinton's defense that 'every secretary of state' has done the same is called into question

Secs of State

Photos via Wikimedia Commons, AP

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When Hillary Clinton was asked by CNN’s Anderson Cooper to defend her high speaking fees, Clinton said that “every secretary of state that I know has done” the same and that she just took what was “offered.”

Clinton, however, was making more money on the lucrative speaking circuit after she left the State Department than her three predecessors combined. Not only was Clinton giving more speeches, but she was also paid for them more than Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell, and Condoleezza Rice.

Clinton has been targeted for the $675,000 she took from Goldman Sachs for three speeches, but her fees sometimes exceeded $300,000. For example, she was paid $325,000 by Cisco in August 2014. Later that year Qualcomm paid her $335,000 for a single speech.

Rice is the only former secretary of state that has come close to making as much as Clinton for speeches. She once received $150,000 for a speech at the University of Minnesota, but usually makes far less.

One group that brought in both Rice and Clinton in the year after they left the State Department illustrates just how different the two women’s approach to the speaking circuit has been.

Rice spoke at the Boys and Girls Club in 2009 for $60,000 and gave most of the money back to the charity. Clinton took $200,000 from the Boys and Girls Club for a 2014 speech. Clinton gave the money the Clinton Foundation.

A volunteer at the Boys and Girls Club who had a hand in setting up both speeches told Politico that the Clinton gig “felt more like a pay-to-play type thing” than Rice’s.

Powell and Albright do not come close to bringing in as much money as Clinton, who made more than $11 million in speeches in one 15 month span. Each is paid “in the $50,000 range” when brought in for a speech, according to a New York Times report, which is less than what Chelsea Clinton makes.

Although Cooper failed to point out that Clinton’s speaking fees far exceed what former secretaries of state brought in, he did point out that, unlike Clinton, they had no plans to run for office again.

The Washington Post‘s Chris Cillizza wrote that Clinton’s response that she is doing nothing more than her predecessors will “haunt” her for “some time to come.”

Brent Scher   Email | Full Bio | RSS
Brent Scher is a staff writer for the Washington Free Beacon. He graduated from the University of Virginia, where he studied foreign affairs and politics.

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