In the middle of instituting two rounds of major layoffs in 2012, the non profit Washington Hospital Center gave Bill Clinton a whopping $225,000 speaking fee to appear at its annual Cardiovascular Research Technologies conference, where Clinton expounded on health care reform and his own battle against heart disease. The hospital didn’t disclose the $225,000 payment on its annual Internal Revenue Service forms, but it surfaced on the list of income sources the ex-President provided on his wife’s required ethics filing as Secretary of State. This waste of precious funds is unconscionable, and it is also all too common.
The story was originally broken by the Washington Times, with its angle being that Clinton was the villain. I will always enjoy a little Clinton-bashing, but that is unfair and ridiculous. No one forced the hospital to pay such an exorbitant fee. No one forces any organization to pay such speaking fees; if organizations wouldn’t pay them, Clinton and other blue chip speakers would charge what the market would bear. Both Clintons charge in this range to speak, and remember, the time they devote to spreading their pearls of wisdom is typically an hour or less. Non profits as well as deep pocket corporations like Goldman Sachs, American Express and Fidelity Investments also pay the fees or similar ones, and it is an abuse of discretion whether the payer is a non profit or not. * Continue reading