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United States: Clinton closed-door speeches reveal ties to federal lobbyists

by Our Foreign Desk

MORE THAN a third of the firms who paid for US presidential hopeful Hilary Clinton’s secretive speeches have government contracts, an Associated Press review revealed yesterday.

The news agency also found that most of the groups that paid Ms Clinton to address closed-door meetings between 2013 and 2015 had lobbied federal agencies in recent years.

AP’s review showed that almost all the 82 corporations, trade associations and other groups have actively sought to sway the government, through lobbying, bidding for contracts, commenting on federal policy and, in some cases, contacting State Department officials or Ms Clinton herself during her tenure as secretary of state.

Their interests are sprawling and would follow Ms Clinton to the White House should she be elected in November.

Rival Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders and Republican critics have mocked Ms Clinton over her speeches to banks and investment firms, saying she is too close to Wall Street to curb its abuses.

Mr Sanders said in a speech in New York last week that Ms Clinton earned an average of about $225,000 (£156,000) for each speech.

He goaded her for declining to release transcripts.

“If somebody gets paid $225,000 for a speech, it must be an unbelievably extraordinary speech,” the Vermont senator said at an outdoor rally in Washington Square Park before Tuesday’s New York primary.

“I kind of think if that $225,000 speech was so extraordinary, she should release the transcripts and share it with all of us.”

On Thursday, Ms Clinton repeated a pledge to release transcripts of her paid speeches, but only when other political candidates do the same.

But in an obvious sop to the Democratic Party’s trade union supporters, the prospective presidential candidate has made a U-turn on the unpopular Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact.

Ms Clinton championed TPP as a “gold standard” agreement when she was secretary of state during President Barack Obama’s first term.

Her campaign is reticent on whether she would seek to renegotiate it with the 11 other TPP nations, whose leaders face opposition to the pact.

The agreement has not yet been ratified by the US Congress, and a failure to do so by February 2018 would kill TPP.

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