News & Politics

While Hillary Was Secretary of State, Foreign Corporations in Favor of TPP Paid Bill over a Million Dollars

Could Clinton's silence on the matter be due to a serious conflict of interest?

The Trans-Pacific Partnership has divided the Democratic Party, with most Democrats in Congress and activists in the country opposing the agreement as party elites such as Barack Obama are supporting it.

One major Democrat who has refused to outright support or oppose the agreement in its current form is Hillary Clinton. “Well, any trade deal has to produce jobs and raise wages and increase prosperity and protect our security,” she told the New Hampshire local media. “We have to do our part in making sure we have the capabilities and the skills to be competitive.”

However, as Secretary of State, she was part of the negotiating team for the deal, calling it the “gold standard” of trade agreements. In a statement she gave in the summer of 2012, she said the agreement would “benefit” the United States. Watch it:

 

These actions stood in sharp contrast to Clinton's rhetoric during her 2008 bid for the presidency, where she sharply criticized free trade agreements.

There are likely a number of factors for why Clinton went from a critic of these corporate-written trade agreements to a supporter while in the Obama administration to more or less neutral today. But one very important factor for voters to know about is the role her own personal wealth might have played in the matter.

Because spousal income is shared, cabinet officials are required to report not only their own personal financial data but also incoming income their spouse receives. While Clinton was Secretary of State, her husband continued his lucrative corporate speaking tour, receiving millions of dollars from both foreign and domestic corporations.

Many of these corporations were themselves enthusiastic supporters of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. We have listed them below:

·      COPARMEX: COPARMEX is the Mexican Employers' Association, representing 36,000 different companies in Mexico. In October 2009, it gave a $235,000 honorarium to Bill Clinton. It has in Mexico been a voice for promoting the TPP.

·      The Mexico Business Summit: Clinton spoke at the Mexico Cumbre De Negocios Business Summit in October 2010, getting two payments totaling $400,000. The summit brings together a who's who of Mexican business elite every year; it has used past conferences to put on panels and presentations in support of the TPP.

·      The Mexican Banking Association (MBA): In April 2010, the MBA hosted Bill Clinton for $340,000. One of the MBA's banker center chiefs is Manuel Zuzueta Villavicencio, who is a director at HSBC in Mexico. HSBC, which famously was treated with kid gloves after being caught laundering drug money for Mexican cartels, has put outreports boosting the TPP and other trade agreements as beneficial for the economy.

·      Yum! Restaurants International: Yum gave $160,000 to Bill Clinton in a May 2011 speaking arrangement. Its executive Ann Grapin has been given access to the TPP even while ordinary Americans and others around the world have been denied access to the text.

·      The Ontario Chamber Of Commerce (OCC): In November of 2011, Clinton gave a speech at the OCC that netted Clinton $175,000. The very same month, the OCC put out a statement supporting the Canadian government's move to join the TPP.

·       Oracle Corporation (In Mexico): For a speech to Oracle Corporation in Mexico, Clinton nabbed $200,000 in October 2012. Oracle has joined many other corporations in lobbying in favor of TPP.

Altogether, these payments total $1,510,000. These are only the foreign corporations that supported TPP and gave to the Clintons – it is important to highlight their wealth transfers to the Clintons because they are prohibited from donating directly to American political campaigns (absent the ones who have branches in the United States). There is, however, no prohibition on them giving personal financial benefits to American ex-presidents.

A whole host of American corporations also have feted the Clintons since they left the White House in 2000, particularly those on Wall Street, giving them over $100 million in wealth generated entirely from paid speaking engagements for the benefit of primarily corporate audiences. Many of these domestic corporations, it goes without saying, are enthusiastic backers of the TPP.

None of this is to say that Clinton's ever-changing positions on trade are solely due to money flowing into her joint bank account – but it does raise the question of some very serious conflicts of interest.

 

Zaid Jilani is an AlterNet staff writer. Follow @zaidjilani on Twitter.

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