HYPOCRISY

“Mrs. Hillary Rodham Clinton said that the ‘deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top,’ and she would know based on her taste for amenities and expenses along with her speaking fees. ‘She insists on staying in the “presidential suite” of luxury hotels that she chooses anywhere in the world, including Las Vegas,’ the Las Vegas ReviewJournal wrote last August. ‘She usually requires those who pay her six-figure fees for speeches to also provide a private jet for transportation—only a $39 million, 16-passenger Gulfstream G 450 or larger will do.’ Wall Street Journal editorial

The Hillary Pay Ratio 

A new index to chart the gap between political words and deeds.

Editorial, The Wall Street Journal, April 15, 2015, p. A 12

Just in time for Wednesday’s nationwide walk-out by fast-food workers to demand a higher minimum wage, Hillary Clinton emailed supporters this week to complain about pay differentials in American business. According to Reuters, Mrs. Clinton griped that “the average CEO makes about 300 times what the average worker makes.”

Many of these CEOs can only wish they were rewarded for their time as handsomely as Mrs. Clinton is. The expected 2016 Democratic presidential nominee has been paid as much as $300,000 per speech.

Supporters of Wednesday’s worker rallies are hoping that Mrs. Clinton will endorse their demand for a $15 minimum wage. That’s more than double the current federal minimum of $7.25. And for the sake of argument let’s assume that $15 per hour is what event staff were paid at the venues where Mrs. Clinton spoke. We’ll also assume about 90 minutes of her time for a speech plus a question-and-answer period. Mrs. Clinton’s fee in this scenario would be more than 13,000 times the earnings of the typical worker.

Not many CEOs can come close to scoring that high on the Hillary Ratio—the difference between the highest-paid worker and the typical worker in a given situation (or you could think of this as the gap between Clinton rhetoric and Clinton reality).

Mrs. Clinton said in her Sunday campaign video that the “deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top,” and she would know based on her taste for amenities and expenses along with her speaking fees. “She insists on staying in the ‘presidential suite’ of luxury hotels that she chooses anywhere in the world, including Las Vegas,” the Las Vegas Review-Journal wrote last August. “She usually requires those who pay her six-figure fees for speeches to also provide a private jet for transportation—only a $39 million, 16-passenger Gulfstream G450 or larger will do.”

There’s one more way she and husband Bill have stacked the deck in their favor. The average worker—if she could even dream of pulling down $200,000 for an hour of work—would pay taxes on this income; Mrs. Clinton often doesn’t.

By routing speaking fees through their family’s foundation, the Clintons ensure that the money won’t be taxed before it is directed to support foundation travel, meals and promotional events, among other things. The highly compensated political influence peddlers at the top of the untaxed sector of the U.S. economy have found their champion.

Hillary: The Censor

Citizens United was about the right to criticize her.

By JAMES TARANTO, The Wall Street JournalApril 15, 2015

Protected speech—for now

“I think it’s fair to say that . . . the deck is still stacked in favor of those already at the top,” declared Hillary Clinton in Monticello, Iowa, yesterday. She might have added: And that’s why it is clear even now that I am going to be the Democratic nominee for president of the United States.

National Journal reports that Mrs. Clinton was “speaking to just 22 people.” That’s true if your definition of “person” excludes corporations—specifically media corporations—and their employees, for “those [22] Iowans were far outnumbered by the dozens of reporters who were bunched together behind a thin yellow rope at the back of the room”:

Bigger yet was the press crowd outside, where reporters who weren’t admitted to the event chased Clinton’s van when it first pulled up here, contributing to the feeling of a media circus surrounding the former secretary of State’s Iowa launch.

And quite a scene that was. “MSNBC’s Clinton beat reporter Alex Seitz-Wald heroically remained in place and on camera Tuesday afternoon as the rest of the political press corps chased Hillary Clinton’s so-called Scooby Van upon its arrival at a roundtable meet and greet in Iowa,” Mediaite reports.

The video, which appears at the bottom of the Mediaite report, is funny. Funnier still is the Washington Free Beacon’s speeded-up Vine loop of the scene. Funniest of all is the WFB loop set to the theme music from “The Benny Hill Show” (look for the nearly invisible icon in the upper left). HotAir.com headlines a post on the scene “What the First Amendment Was Made For.”

Mediaite also notes that Bloomberg Politics editor Mark Halperin—last seen scoffing at the wild notion that Mrs. Clinton “is enjoying a honeymoon w/ the media,” showed up yesterday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” where he exulted over Mrs. Clinton’s visit to an Ohio Chipotle:

“Her problem is not to prove to people that she’s ready for president,” . . . Halperin said. “The two words she needs are fun and new. And part of why [Monday] was so successful is, she looks like she’s having fun and she’s doing, for her, new stuff. We’ve never seen her get a burrito before.”

Maybe not, but as the Weekly Standard’s Daniel Halper reports, she is not a stranger to the Chipotle brand. Last year, the Mexican fast-food chain’s co-CEO Monty Moran spoke at the Clinton Global Initiative, part of the Clinton family’s gigabuck nonprofit empire: “The title of Moran’s panel discussion was, ‘The Case for Economic Justice.’ It was moderated by then Meet the Press host David Gregory.” (Come to think of it, maybe Halperin’s point was that “honeymoon” is an inapt metaphor given the duration of the Clinton-media relationship.)

Elaborating on the stacked-deck theme, Mrs. Clinton complained: “There’s something wrong when CEOs make 300 times more than the typical worker.” According to Salary.com, Moran’s compensation in 2014 was $28,153,202, mostly in stock-option grants. If the Chipotle workers who prepared and served Mrs. Clinton’s burrito are typical, then, each makes a little under $94,000 a year—nice work if you can get it.

As if that isn’t unfair enough, HotAir’s Ed Morrissey notes that in 2013 Mrs. Clinton received a mere $14 million advance for her memoir “Hard Choices.” That’s less than half of Moran’s annual earnings! No wonder Mrs. Clinton was reduced to scraping up $300,000 speaking honorariums just to make ends meet.

Mrs. Clinton gave the Washington Post “a brief interview” yesterday, during which she “said she had developed a plan to overhaul the way money is spent in political campaigns”:

Earlier in the day she said she wanted to fix the country’s “dysfunctional” campaign finance system, even backing a constitutional amendment if necessary.

Asked about her campaign finance agenda, Clinton said, “We do have a plan. We have a plan for my plan.”

It’s reminiscent of what they said about Teddy Roosevelt’s campaign-finance ideas: A man, a plan, a plan for a plan, a plan for a plan for a canal, a plan for . . .

One thing Mrs. Clinton isn’t planning is a shoestring operation. The New York Times reported Saturday that her campaign combined with “the outside groups supporting her candidacy” is “expected to be a $2.5 billion effort, dwarfing the vast majority of her would-be rivals in both parties.” In 2012 Politico put the equivalent figures for Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, respectively, at $1.123 billion and $1.019 billion—less combined than the expected Clinton total.

“When The Post asked about the role of Priorities USA Action, a pro-Clinton super PAC currently trying to raise hundreds of millions of dollars to help her campaign, [Mrs.] Clinton shrugged her shoulders and said, ‘I don’t know.’ ” (At least she didn’t say, “What difference does it make?”) That’s enough to satisfy Slate’s Beth Ethier:

While Clinton’s detractors will almost certainly accuse her of hypocrisy for denouncing the loosened restrictions on fundraising that have allowed her shadow campaign to amass a huge war chest, the Citizens United ruling offers an airtight defense: Since she is not allowed to “coordinate” with her unofficial army, she couldn’t make them stop spending money on her, even if she wanted to.

That would be a non sequitur if it weren’t two non sequiturs. First, the source of the “coordination” ban is not Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010) but Congress, which in the 1970s enacted legislation that treats “expenditures controlled by or coordinated with the candidate” as campaign contributions. It was in Buckley v. Valeo (1976) that the Supreme Court held that limits on independent expenditures—in which such control or coordination was absent—were unconstitutional violations of free speech, “with only one Justice dissenting,” as Justice Anthony Kennedy noted in Citizens United.

Second, while it’s technically true that Mrs. Clinton “couldn’t make them stop spending money,” it’s far-fetched to suggest that a public renunciation of Priorities USA Action’s support would count as illegal coordination unless it was backed up (or undermined) by some behind-the-scenes maneuvering.

The expected wealth of Mrs. Clinton’s and her supporters’ campaigns exemplifies how campaign-finance restrictions stack the deck “in favor of those already at the top,” namely incumbents. Obama and Romney might have been close to parity in the campaign-money department, but the president had no primary challenge, which meant he could spend his primary war chest to get a jump on the general election. Mrs. Clinton is not an incumbent, but unless a serious challenge emerges for the Democratic nomination, she will be situated as if she were one.

Mrs. Clinton’s most outrageous hypocrisy, however, rests in her call to amend the Constitution to curtail free speech. This has been a popular position on the left since Citizens United. As we noted in September, by that time all but a handful of Senate Democrats had signed on as co-sponsors of a resolution to propose an amendment for near-total repeal of the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of speech. In this regard, as in much else, Mrs. Clinton is a follower, not a leader.

But she is a follower in a particularly awkward way, for Citizens United was not just about freedom of speech. It was also about Hillary Clinton. Here is Justice Kennedy’s outline of the facts of the case (citations omitted):

In January 2008, Citizens United released a film entitled Hillary: The Movie. . . . It is a 90-minute documentary about then-Senator Hillary Clinton, who was a candidate in the Democratic Party’s 2008 Presidential primary elections. Hillary mentions Senator Clinton by name and depicts interviews with political commentators and other persons, most of them quite critical of Senator Clinton. Hillary was released in theaters and on DVD, but Citizens United wanted to increase distribution by making it available through video-on-demand. . . .

In December 2007, a cable company offered, for a payment of $1.2 million, to make Hillary available on a video-on-demand channel called “Elections ’08.” Some video-on-demand services require viewers to pay a small fee to view a selected program, but here the proposal was to make Hillary available to viewers free of charge.

To implement the proposal, Citizens United was prepared to pay for the video-on-demand; and to promote the film, it produced two 10-second ads and one 30-second ad for Hillary. Each ad includes a short (and, in our view, pejorative) statement about Senator Clinton, followed by the name of the movie and the movie’s Website address. Citizens United desired to promote the video-on-demand offering by running advertisements on broadcast and cable television.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia held that the FEC had the legal authority to suppress the movie “because it was ‘susceptible of no other interpretation than to inform the electorate that Senator Clinton is unfit for office, that the United States would be a dangerous place in a President Hillary Clinton world, and that viewers should vote against her.’ ”

Now, in a bitter foretaste of life in “a President Hillary Clinton world,” Mrs. Clinton is urging an amendment to the Constitution to do away with the right to criticize her.

Two Trips in One!

  • “[Hillary] Clinton is not filming ads during her road trip, the aide said, adding that the trip will allow Clinton to reap the political benefits of small, spontaneous events without a large crowd or media contingent.”—Gabriel Debenedetti, Politico.com, April 12
  • “[Mrs.] Clinton and her team then headed to an unannounced stop at Fuel Espresso, where she met in a private, closed-to-the-press meeting with eight activists for 90 minutes. . . . She was accompanied by her aides Huma Abedin and Nick Merrill, along with media adviser Jim Margolis, who was filming the event, possibly for a future campaign ad.”—Annie Karni, Politico.com, April 14
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