Will Clinton's Paid Speaking Events for Goldman Sachs Draw Populist Scorn?

Potentially raising eyebrows for those concerned about the influential role of large financial firms on current (or possibly future) elected officials, former Senator and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has given a pair of reportedly ‘lucrative’ talks for an audience of Goldman Sachs employees and their clients in recent days.

Clinton, regarded as a likely top contender for the Democratic nominee for president in 2016, is said to receive approximately $200,000 for her paid speaking engagements, leading the National Review to report that “she likely netted around $400,000 for her paid gigs at Goldman” that took place on Thursday, October 24 and Tuesday, October 29.

According the National Review:

As the the New York Times reported this summer, Clinton has been using her impressive government resume to garner large speaking fees since leaving her post at the State Department earlier this year:

Though none of the reporting on Clinton’s recent engagements presume there is anything wrong with former governmental official plying the ‘talking circuit’ in order to leverage their political experience, the financial transaction between a possible presidential candidate and one of the most powerful investment banks in the country will undoubtedly reinforce the troubling idea that a revolving door exists between Wall Street and Washington.

In the particular case of Clinton, as executive editor of The Nation Richard Kim recently argued, the idea that a figure so enmeshed in the world of the economic and political elite could adequately deliver the populist solutions the nation now so badly needs is absurd.

According to Kim’s assessment, it would be “hard to imagine a Democrat of national stature more ill-equipped to speak” to the “populist mood” of the country than the former Secretary of State.  He writes:

Citing the Clinton’s gold-plated rolodex—which includes “billionaires and corporate giants like Walmart, Goldman Sachs’ Lloyd Blankfein, Mike Bloomberg, Hollywood mogul Steve Bing and Paychex chairman Tom Golisano”—Kim acknowledged that though Hillary may not
“solicit the advice of all these folks,” she will almost surely “solicit their donations.”

“And once she does,” he asks, “how keen will she be to tell them that their gains are ill gotten, that they’ll need to pay more, not in tax-deductible charitable contributions, but in taxes?”