Deftly changing hats from secretary of state to presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton happily picked up where Bill left off in raking in personal speaking fees in Canada, including funds from groups seeking to promote the Keystone Pipeline. Since leaving the State Department in January 2013, Hillary has given six paid speeches in Canada. At $200,000 to $300,000 a speech or more, that’s between, $1.2 million and $1.8 million of personal income courtesy of the Canadians.
Canada wants the Keystone Pipeline. While Hillary was running for president and serving as secretary of state, they showered Bill with $8,430,000 in speaking fees. Add in Hillary’s take and its a cool $10 million.
Hillary advanced the pipeline through the State Department process and predicted its approval. Environmental groups, including Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, have attacked Hillary’s bias toward Keystone, even asking her to recuse herself from deciding its fate, according to Mother Jones. Shortly after she left office, State signed off on the project.
But President Obama, catering to the looney left, has held up its approval. So Canada needed to keep on paying to assure the future president would remember her good friend and remove this last roadblock.
Two of Hillary’s speeches were on consecutive days to the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC), likely for a combined fee of half a million dollars.
CIBC is a key player in promoting the pipeline. Gordon Griffen, who sits on the bank’s board and was formerly Clinton’s ambassador to Canada, is the registered lobbyist in the U.S. for TransCanada, the sponsor of the pipeline. Griffen – who bundled donations for Hillary’s ’08 campaign – also sits on the board of Canadian Natural Resources, another strong pipeline advocate.
Earlier, another board member, Frank McKenna, who was Canada’s ambassador to the United States, paid $75,000 to Bill for a speech while Hillary served in the Senate. These bank folks really like the Clintons.
Despite its impressive name, the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce has a blackened reputation. In 2003, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission fined it $42 million for its role in the Enron bankruptcy.
Hillary milked the Canadian cash cow by speaking to Boards of Trade in both Montreal and Vancouver. Her speech in Vancouver was a return engagement for the family. The Vancouver Board paid Bill $175,000 for a speech in 2010. But, back then, the Board’s sponsorship was only a front. The sponsor of the speech was actually TD Bank and the mining company Teck Resources. TD Bank is a heavy investor in the Keystone Pipeline, and, in fact, TD Bank invested $.8 million in Bill Clinton.
Hillary did not reveal the co-sponsorships of her Board of Trade speeches, but the fact that Donald Lindsay, the president of the Vancouver Board of Trade, is also the CEO of Teck, a Clinton Foundation donor, and a partner with Bill and Canadian investor and close Friend of Bill Frank Giustra, makes a connection with the pipeline interests most likely. Giustra, for his part, has been the center of the scandal revealed by the New York Times in which he helped Russian dictator Vladimir Putin acquire ownership of vast uranium resources in the U.S. and Canada. And Giustra – Clinton’s new best friend – has contributed more than $136 million to Clinton Foundation initiatives and opened the door to his rich mining friends and pipeline backers who have sponsored millions more in speeches for Bill and Hillary.
Hillary continued to follow in her husband’s footsteps by speaking for TinePublic, an event organizer. TinePublic had previously paid Bill $350,000 for a series of speeches. How much they paid Hillary is unknown, as is the sponsorship of the speech.
Did all this money influence Hillary? You decide.
The environmental groups that criticized Hillary over Keystone were particularly troubled by the role of Paul Elliott, who served as her national deputy campaign manager in 2008 and sought to broker, according to the Washington Post, “meetings between senior State Department officials and TransCanada executives.”
Indeed, Damon Moglen, from Friends of the Earth, said that the State Department offered to coach TransCanada’s CEO on how to answer attacks on the Pipeline.
The Washington Post reported that the ever-helpful Elliott offered to enlist TransCanada officials’ aid in helping State officials “forge an international climate agreement” and noted that “he deluged administration officials with letters testifying to the virtues of the Keystone project.”
Part of the process of State Department review of Keystone involved an impartial assessment of its environmental impact. State had to assure the independence of the review process and attest to the absence of any conflicts of interest by any of its authors.
Nevertheless, Hillary’s State Department retained Environmental Resources Management (ERM) to write the report even though ERM had a long history of working for TransCanada and other pipeline companies. The State Department and ERM hid the past activities of several of its consultants, raising doubts about the independence of the review.
Hillary’s Canadian friends doubtless refused to settle for impartiality and showered her husband with speaking fees while she was in office. Now, with the prospect that she might be elected president, the spigot remains open. But this time it goes to both Bill and Hill.