WASHINGTON - Hillary Rodham Clinton wants voters to know she is no friend of Wall Street. But Wall Street has frequently been a friend to her.
In the 18 months prior to announcing her second campaign for president, the front-runner for the Democratic nomination addressed private equity investors in California and New York, delivered remarks to bankers in Hilton Head, S.C., and spoke to brokers at the Ritz-Carlton in Naples, Fla.
Her efforts capped a nearly 15-year period in which Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, made at least $35 million by giving 164 speeches to financial services, real estate and insurance companies after leaving the White House in 2001, according to an Associated Press analysis of public disclosure forms and records released by her campaign.
The long and lucrative relationship between the Clinton family and the nation's finance industry has emerged as a key issue in her Democratic primary race. Her rivals, including Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, accuse her of being too cozy with Wall Street and the industry she once represented as a senator from New York.
His criticism plays into an argument her GOP rivals have long made, that Clinton can't be trusted and will flout the rules to get ahead.
Her backers in the financial industry say they have little expectation her family's personal profits will influence her policy-making, noting their own opposition to her plan to raise taxes on hedge fund and private equity gains known as carried interest.
"She and Bill were both government servants all of their life, and there was a set period of time when they could make money," said venture capitalist Alan Patricof, a longtime Clinton fund-raiser, of the Clintons' paid speechmaking. "She had to maximize her earning potential."
The Clinton campaign also points to her record, saying it shows a history of working to regulate the industry. Negative ads run by a group called Future 45, a super PAC backed by six-figure checks from hedge fund managers, demonstrate that Wall Street expects her to follow through, aides said.
"Any honest look at Hillary Clinton's record shows she spoke out early and often against Wall Street's excesses in the run-up to the financial crisis," said campaign spokesman Brian Fallon. "It's clear they believe she will take action as president to crack down on the industry's abuses."
The bulk of the Clintons' paid speeches to the financial industry came after the 2008 economic crash. From 2009 to 2014, the couple made $26 million from 109 appearances sponsored by banks, insurance companies, hedge funds, private equity firms and real estate businesses, and at those industries' conferences and before their trade organizations.
With Hillary Clinton serving as secretary of state for most of that period, her husband brought in the bulk of the money, nearly $17 million. That included $250,000 that Bill Clinton earned for mingling with investment managers in New York on May 12 - 30 days after she released a video announcing her second bid for the White House.
Advocates for boosting financial regulation say the large personal payouts underscore a political imperative for Clinton to take tough policy positions.
"She needs to show that she is not too cozy with the banks, and that makes it even more important for her to draw a clear line and propose very tough measures," said Robert Reich, a secretary of labor during the Clinton administration who has advised Hillary Clinton's campaign.
Since her husband left the White House, the family's charity, the Clinton Foundation, has collected millions more from the industry, with companies such as Barclay's, Citigroup, Fidelity, HSBC and Goldman Sachs listed as donating as much as $5 million each.
BY THE NUMBERS
The amount the Clintons made from 109 appearances
from 2009 to 2014.
What Bill Clinton earned for mingling with investment managers in New York
on May 12.
The amount some financial institutions have donated
to the Clinton Foundation since
Bill Clinton left office.EndText