Hillary Clinton. (Marc Nozell / CC BY 2.0)
State Department calendars obtained by The Associated Press show that while serving as secretary of state, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton made herself available to dozens of influential fundraisers, loyalists of the former Clinton administration and her current campaign, and corporate donors to the Clinton Foundation, her family’s global charity.
The woman who would become a 2016 presidential candidate met or spoke by phone with nearly 100 corporate executives, Clinton charity donors and political supporters during her four years at the State Department between 2009 and 2013, records show. Many of those meetings and calls, formally scheduled by her aides, involved heads of companies and organizations that were pursuing business or private interests with the Obama administration at the time, including with the State Department while Clinton was in charge.
In addition, at least 60 of those who met with Clinton have donated or pledged program commitments to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation. A dozen have been among Hillary Clinton’s most reliable political fundraisers, bundling more than $100,000 in donations during her failed 2008 presidential campaign or providing larger amounts to Clinton-allied super political action committees this time. And at least six entities represented in the meetings paid former President Bill Clinton lucrative fees for speeches.
The AP found no evidence of legal or ethical conflicts in Clinton’s meetings, in its examination of 1,294 pages from the calendars. Her sit-downs with business leaders were not unique among recent secretaries of state, who sometimes called on corporate executives to aid in international affairs, according to archived documents.
But the difference with Clinton’s meetings was that she was a 2008 presidential contender who was widely expected to try again in 2016. Her availability to luminaries from politics, business and charity shows the extent to which her office became a sounding board for their interests. And her ties with so many familiar faces from those intersecting worlds were complicated by their lucrative financial largess and political support over the years — even during her State Department tenure — for her campaigns and her husband’s, and for her family’s foundation.
Among those she met with or spoke with by phone were chief executives such as General Electric Co.’s Jeff Immelt, PepsiCo Inc.’s Indra Nooyi, FedEx Corp.’s Fred Smith, former Morgan Stanley chairman John Mack and former Citigroup Inc. chairman Sanford Weill. There were also billionaires: investors George Soros and Warren Buffett and diet pioneer S. Daniel Abraham. Major Democratic Party fundraisers included entertainment magnate Haim Saban, real estate developer Stephen J. Cloobeck and American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten.
—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.