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Clinton cashes in on his speeches

The former president is the highest-paid lecturer, earning $9-million through his globe-trotting last year.

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 15, 2002

WASHINGTON -- Former President Bill Clinton made more than $9.2-million delivering speeches last year while his wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., received $2.85-million as an advance on her book, according to congressional financial disclosure reports released Friday.

The Clintons still owe more than $1.75-million in legal fees for their defense in White House investigations, even after paying $1.3-million last year, the reports show.

The first detailed look at the ex-president's job opportunities show that he delivered more than 60 speeches last year, traveling from Omaha, Neb., to Trinidad and beyond, and fetching as much as $350,000 for a speech.

"This is almost certainly a record for a former president," said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics. "Considering the length of his speeches, it may be a bargain per word."

Several in the industry said former President Clinton's fees -- several at $250,000 per speech and one at $350,000 -- are exceptional, even for entertainment stars.

"There's no question he's the highest-paid speaker in the history of the lecture industry," said Don Walker, president of the Harry Walker Agency in New York, which handles Clinton's speaking arrangements.

Canada Stefl, president of KEY Speakers Bureau in Corona del Mar, Calif., which also handles many celebrities, said few big-name speakers fetch more than $100,000 per speech.

Julia Payne, a spokeswoman for the former president, said: "He is the most requested speaker on the lecture circuit in the world." She said the ex-president could be booked every day for the next three or four years.

The former president received $450,000 over three days from MIKI Corp., a Japanese company that manufactures vitamins and a nutritional supplement, and $400,000 for three speeches in three days from the Jewish National Fund in Scotland and England.

Most of the speeches were made to companies and business-related groups in the United States, usually at $125,000 or $150,000 each. The London School of Economics got the former president for a bargain: $28,100.

But some fees were higher, such as the $250,000 he received for a speech to New York-based Fortune Magazine Forum. Others that paid to hear him included Oracle Corp., the Paris Golf & Country Club, Credit Suisse First Boston Corp., the El Paso Holocaust Museum and the British Broadcasting Corp.

Stefl and Walker said they could think of no celebrity who has endured a schedule as grueling as Clinton. During some periods he made speeches virtually every day, often in different countries on consecutive days.

During four days in April 2001, Clinton spoke in Norway, Sweden, Austria and Poland, receiving a total of more than $600,000. In August, he made three speeches on successive days to different audiences from the same Japanese corporation, followed four days later by a speech in Brazil, netting $700,000 for the four addresses.

Many of his speeches focus on globalization and "interdependence" of nations, Payne said.

Clinton is not the first ex-president to be well-paid on the lecture circuit. Former President Ronald Reagan received about $2-million for two 20-minute speeches in Japan in 1989. And former President George Bush has collected around $4-million annually for making speeches.

Unlike his successors, former President Jimmy Carter has spent much of his time on humanitarian and nonprofit activities, such as working with Habitat for Humanity or monitoring elections. He seldom accepts speaking fees, and when he does, he typically donates the proceeds to his charitable foundation.

Unlike Carter, the Clintons have large legal debts resulting from the controversies and investigations of the former president's final years in office. They reported paying more than $1.3-million in legal fees for themselves and former staffers last year. That is separate from payments made by their Legal Expense Trust, which has paid $7.2-million, including $350,000 in 2001, according to a Clinton aide.

They estimated their remaining legal debts to three Washington firms at between $1.75-million and $6.5-million. The estimates are imprecise because the congressional annual disclosure forms use only broad ranges of figures.

None of the three firms returned calls seeking comment.

Sen. Clinton reported receiving $2.85-million of her $8-million advance from Simon & Shuster for a book due out in 2003 on her years as first lady.

-- Information from the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, New York Times and Associated Press was used in this report.

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