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9 Former Public Servants, Including Hillary Clinton, Cashing in for Big Bucks on the Speaker Circuit

There's a fortune to be made, but are there any political consequences to speechifying to the highest bidder?

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8. Sarah Palin: Former Alaska governor and vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin has always had a keen sense of where the money is, and in her heyday, she commanded over $100,000 just for opening her mouth at a college you have probably never heard of. As Politico has revealed, Tea Party groups have handed over large sums to Palin, which is understandable considering her unwavering endorsements of their agenda. However, lately Palin has experienced a drop in popularity and her speaking fees have plummeted. In fact, she recently was obliged to pay her own travel expenses to speak for free to — egads! — a high school.

9. Colin Powell: It’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it. Colin Powell, who is always reminding us of his qualities of dignity and integrity, rakes in up to $200,000 a hit on the speaker circuit. According to BusinessWeek, Powell, the first African-American Secretary of State and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has spent his time since office serving on various corporate boards, including AOL's, and collecting stratospheric speaking fees. Powell is famous for speeches, including a certain one he made at the U.N. in support of the Iraq war. That one didn't turn out too well for his reputation, but it doesn't appear to have reduced his ability to cash in.

Lynn Parramore is an AlterNet senior editor. She is cofounder of Recessionwire, founding editor of New Deal 2.0, and author of "Reading the Sphinx: Ancient Egypt in Nineteenth-Century Literary Culture." She received her Ph.D. in English and cultural theory from NYU. She is the director of AlterNet's New Economic Dialogue Project. Follow her on Twitter @LynnParramore.