Long before Clinton declared candidacy, the DNC researched her “vulnerabilities”—including speaking fees, private jets, and high-rolling Clinton Foundation donors
By Nika Knight
The anonymous hacker calling themselves Guccifer 2.0 released a second trove of internal documents from Democratic National Committee (DNC) servers on Tuesday, including a hefty 113-page file titled “Hillary Clinton Master Doc” that includes research the party performed on behalf of Clinton’s candidacy—months before she declared an intention to run.
The documents reveal that the DNC was particularly worried about Clinton’s speaking fees, her book advance, and her somewhat exacting luxury travel requirements for appearances.
As the Daily Beast summarized:
Several documents leaked […] show that DNC researchers, whose annotated notes can still be seen in the electronic files, looked for the tiniest potential infraction or questionable item in Clinton’s travel expenses, for instance, asking why one trip from New York to Washington, D.C., aboard a Bank of America jet cost just $45.75, an amount that a researcher called “weirdly low.”
A whole section in the “Master Doc” is devoted to questions and criticism about the money Clinton made from her book advance, book tour, and her public speeches, which generally ran around $250,000 per appearance and required the host to provide first-class travel and accommodations. In Clinton’s defense, the DNC cites articles stressing that fees went to the Clinton Foundation, and characterizing the work that the former secretary did in her private life not as an attempt to enrich herself, but to benefit her and her husband’s charitable work.
Also in the dossier were documents gathered by the DNC related to Clinton’s sky-high speaking fees, including an email from her booking agency that contradicts Clinton’s defense that she merely accepted “what they offered” when she was paid over $200,000 per speech—a claim that reporters have previously critiqued.
As journalist Shaun King observed on Twitter:[tweet https://twitter.com/ShaunKing/status/745444019556081664 ]
The Smoking Gun notes the other amenities Clinton required in her speaking contracts:
In addition to a “standard” $225,000 fee, Clinton required a “chartered roundtrip private jet” that needed to be a Gulfstream 450 or a larger aircraft. Depending on its outfitting, the Gulfstream jet, which costs upwards of $40 million, can seat 19 passengers and “sleeps up to six.” Clinton’s contract also stipulated that speech hosts had to pay for separate first class or business airfare for three of her aides.
As for lodging, Clinton required “a presidential suite” and up to “three (3) adjoining or contiguous rooms for her travel aides” and up to two extra rooms for advance staff. The host was also responsible for the Clinton travel party’s ground transportation, meals, and “phone charges/cell phones.”
Additionally, the host also had to pay “a flat fee of $1000” for a stenographer to create “an immediate transcript of Secretary Clinton’s remarks.” The contract adds, however, “We will be unable to share a copy of the transcript following the event.”
Moreover, the DNC appeared particularly worried about the “vulnerabilities” of the Clinton Foundation, such as its acceptance of million-dollar plus donations from private corporations and foreign governments, its veiled finances, and its record in Haiti.
One file (pdf) titled “Clinton Foundation Donors $25K+” documents the high-rolling donors to the Clinton Foundation, including the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (in the $10-$25 million column), the Saudi Arabian construction magnate Sheikh Mohammed H. Al-Amoudi ($5-$10 million), Barclays Capital ($1-$5 million), ExxonMobil ($1-$5 million), and Chevron ($500,000-$1 million), among many other private corporations—including healthcare, oil and gas, and media giants—and foreign governments.
In a master file called “Clinton Foundation Master Doc,” DNC researchers appear to have gathered reporting spanning years on the “vulnerabilities” of the Clinton Foundation’s record and finances, revealing a particular point of anxiety for the party:
The documents, most of which appear to be dated from the spring of 2015, reveal a party entirely focused on propping up its establishment candidate, critics contend, while failing to support or even predict the success of outsider candidate Bernie Sanders.
Indeed, much of the “opposition research” on other Democratic candidates focused on Lincoln Chafee, Martin O’Malley, Jim Webb, and even Vice President Joe Biden, who never declared an intention to run.
Some argue that these leaks lend more weight to accusations that the primary was “rigged” in favor of the former secretary of state.
And whoever Guccifer 2.0 may be, they appear to be taking a more active role in the leaks—saying they’re now willing to speak to the press via Twitter—supporting whistleblower Edward Snowden’s statement that such hacktivists are “now demonstrating intent—and capability—to influence elections.”