Despite the controversy over his being the featured speaker at a Morgan Stanley Dean Whitter confab in Florida on Feb. 5 — for which the bank’s chairman, Philip Purcell, later apologized to stockholders, saying Morgan Stanley “clearly made a mistake” — Bill Clinton will deliver the keynote address to The Oracle Corp.’s high-tech conference in New Orleans on Monday.
The Presidents’ Day shindig is being heralded by the electronic business solutions company as “the biggest event in e-business,” and a way “to help business leaders leverage technology for improved businesses efficiencies,” according to Mark Jarvis, Oracle’s chief marketing officer.
“Oracle is honored that Mr. Clinton, the first high-tech president, will share his unique perspective and insight on this rapidly changing landscape,” Jarvis said in a statement released on the Oracle website.
That sentiment was echoed by other company officials.
As Clinton’s term drew to a close, many Wall Street companies were hot to sign Clinton as a speaker. That is, until the cascade of controversies that attended his exit from the White House, and particularly the pardon of billionaire financier Marc Rich. After the last-minute pardon, it was subsequently revealed that his ex-wife, Denise Rich, had donated in excess of $1 million to the Democratic Party since 1993, and had also given $400,000 to the Clinton library in Little Rock, Ark.
When asked if Mr. Clinton’s appearance was cause for concern among company executives, Oracle’s vice president of corporate public relations assured WND that there was none.
“There’s absolutely no intention” of dropping Clinton from the speaker’s list, she said. “We’re delighted that Bill Clinton could make the time out of his schedule to come to our conference. We think he’s going to be of high interest to our attendees.”
Glass said Oracle had received complaints from clients and others about Clinton’s appearance, but she added the firm had also received an equal number of compliments.
“We’ve gotten a lot of phone calls and e-mails on both sides of the fence,” Glass said. “People definitely feel very strongly about this individual.” She denied losing any clients over Clinton’s appearance.
Glass did not say if Oracle was paying Clinton $150,000 for his speech — his reported fee is $100,000 to $150,000 per speech — but then confirmed “it was something comparable to what he’s gotten in the past.”
Last week, financial giant Morgan Stanley Dean Witter apologized to its clients after receiving hundreds of complaints for sponsoring Clinton in a speech he gave in Florida.
In an e-mail sent to investors late last week, the firm’s chairman, Philip J. Purcell, said: “I fully understand why you are upset that former President Clinton spoke at one of our conferences. We clearly made a mistake. First, the decision did not receive the proper review within the firm. And second, we should have been far more sensitive to the strong feelings of our clients over Mr. Clinton’s personal behavior as President.”
Purcell’s apology said his firm in the past had paid former presidents Bush and Reagan similar speaking fees to address sponsored events, but added, “in this case, we should have thought twice before the speaking invitation was extended.”
“Our failure to do so was particularly unfortunate in light of Mr. Clinton’s actions in leaving the White House,” Purcell said.
“Morgan Stanley’s decision to criticize itself for arranging the speech could have a serious impact on Mr. Clinton’s post-White House income if other large investment firms and corporations feared that they, too, could face criticism from their clients by paying Mr. Clinton to speak,” the New York Times said last Friday.
Also, the investment firm Paine Webber, which is owned by London-based UBS Warburg, has dropped plans to have Clinton speak at an upcoming New York conference.
Reports said the firm may have been worried about the appearance of impropriety in hiring Clinton, since one of the company’s senior executives had written to Clinton, urging him to pardon Rich.
Despite these setbacks, Clinton will remain on the Oracle speaking card, and will also make a speech at Salem State College in Massachusetts and at a Canadian medical institute.
Anne Williamson, a former Wall Street Journal financial analyst and author, offered some insight as to why Wall Street is choosing Clinton as a featured speaker.
It isn’t surprising, she told WorldNetDaily, to see so many major financial and tech firms looking to pay Clinton big money to speak at corporate-sponsored events.
“It is no accident that Morgan Stanley invited Clinton to speak last week. They owe him big time — as does Credit Suisse First Boston (the investment banking arm of Credit Suisse Holding AG, Zurich, Switzerland), which will soon provide another speech venue cum six-figure fee,” Williamson said Thursday.
“After all, former U.S. Treasury secretaries Robert Rubin’s and Larry Summer’s worldwide promulgation of moral hazard through IMF (International Monetary Fund) bailouts of foreign nations’ entire banking systems provided finance capitalism’s soldiers with opportunities for plunder on a scale unseen since the days of Rome’s legions,” she said. “Clinton’s Russian assistance program alone has but one precedent — Ghengis Khan and his ‘golden horde.'”
“I won’t even get into the gargantuan bubble the Clintonistas engineered and which today threatens all Americans’ prosperity,” she said, “other than to say that the Street’s older and wiser insiders have been heard to describe it as ‘the biggest voluntary redistribution of wealth the world has ever seen.'”