Yesterday we pointed out something troubling: while Hillary Clinton has now gone 274 days without giving a press conference (even as her campaign spokesman Brian Fallon eagerly vowed that “if elected Hillary Clinton will hold press conferences”) she has been all too eager to answer questions from donors at exclusive (and expensive) fundraisers.
Like, for example, the one that took place two weeks ago at the Rothschilds’ Nantucket estate. Recall that as we reported then, the day after Bill’s 70th birthday “Hillary, not one to be bothered with traditional peasant forms of travel, awoke and took her private jet just 20 miles over to Nantucket where the Rothschilds will be hosting a fundraiser. The event is open to all…well anyone who can afford the $100,000 per person price tag.”
— Nicole Harnishfeger (@HarnishfegerIM) August 20, 2016
Now, thanks to the NYT article that gives the common people a glimpse into what exactly has been taking place within these fundraisers, we know that when Hillary arrived at the Rotschild mansion, she would “bask in an affectionate embrace as hosts try to limit confrontational engagements. Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild, a backer of Democrats and a friend of the Clintons’, made sure attendees did not grill Mrs. Clinton at the $100,000-per-couple lamb dinner Mrs. Forester de Rothschild hosted under a tent on the lawn of her oceanfront Martha’s Vineyard mansion.
“I said, ‘Let’s make it a nice night for her and show her our love,’” Mrs. Forester de Rothschild said.
The rich also showed Hillary their wallets. As the NYT added, “for a donation of $2,700, the children (under 16) of donors at an event last month at the Sag Harbor, N.Y., estate of the hedge fund magnate Adam Sender could ask Mrs. Clinton a question. A family photo with Mrs. Clinton cost $10,000, according to attendees.” A photo such as the following tweeted by Justin Timberlake on August 23:
— Justin Timberlake (@jtimberlake) August 23, 2016
[W]hen Mrs. Clinton attended a dinner at the Beverly Hills home of the entertainment executive Haim Saban last month, the invitation was very clear. If attendees wanted to dine and receive a photo with Mrs. Clinton they had to pay their own way: “Write not raise” $100,000.
And while Hillary may have cut back on the notorious $250,000/hour speech fees, in the last two weeks of August, Clinton raked in roughly $50 million at 22 fund-raising events, averaging around $150,000 an hour, according to a New York Times calculation, just a modest haircut from her peak “speech” pay-to-play fundraising days.
The good news is that for those who could afford it, Hillary fielded hundreds of questions from the ultrarich in places like the Hamptons, Martha’s Vineyard, Beverly Hills and Silicon Valley (collecting millions in the process). The bad news is that the media – and thus the broader US public – was not invited.
As the NYT adds, “the public has gotten used to seeing Mrs. Clinton’s carefully choreographed appearances and her somewhat halting speeches and TV interviews over the course of the long — and sometimes seemingly joyless — campaign, but donors this summer have glimpsed an entirely different person.”
It is clear from interviews with more than a dozen attendees of Mrs. Clinton’s finance events this summer and a handful of pictures and videos of her at the closed-press gatherings that Mrs. Clinton, often described as warm and personable in small settings, whoever the audience, can be especially relaxed, candid and even joyous in this company.
Meanwhile, as Hillary reveals her “candid and even joyous” personality to America’s 0.01%, a troubling divergence emerges: while Clinton’s aides have gone to great lengths to project an image of her as down-to-earth and attuned to the challenges of what she likes to call “the struggling and the striving”, she has been pandering almost exclusively to the ultra wealthy.
She began her campaign last year riding in a van to Iowa from New York and spent much of last summer hosting round-table discussions with a handful of what her campaign called “everyday Americans” in Iowa and New Hampshire.
Yet some of the closest relationships Mrs. Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, have are with their longstanding contributors. If she feels most at ease around millionaires, within the gilded bubble, it is in part because they are some of her most intimate friends.
Why the continued push by the uber-wealthy to give Clinton money? Simple: they hope to get something in exchange, the same way they have done for years with countless Bill and Hillary speeches, the same way the Clinton Foundation served as a legal conduit granting kickbacks to those who funded it. To wit:
When financiers complain about the regulations implemented by the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul, Mrs. Clinton reaffirms her support for strong Wall Street regulation, but adds that she is open to listening to anyone’s ideas and at times notes that she represented the banking industry as a senator.
The more money “donated”, the more she will listen. Or take trade: “The wealthy contributors who host Mrs. Clinton often complain about her opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership and express concerns that Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont pushed her to the left on trade and other issues. Mrs. Clinton reminds them she has both opposed and supported trade deals in the past. And, as she noted at an event last month on Cape Cod in Massachusetts, Mrs. Clinton points out that she worked cooperatively with Republicans when she served in the Senate and would do so as president.”
In other words, one elected, Hillary’s views may “shift.”
Meanwhile, Hilary’s image as one of the ordinary middle-class folk is in jeopardy as she ignores “photo-ops” in Louisiana and instead settles for this:
Mr. and Mrs. Clinton have occupied a particular place in the social fabric of the enclave. Over the past several summers, they have spent the last two weeks of August in a rented 12,000-square-foot home with a heated pool in East Hampton and in a six-bedroom mansion with a private path to the beach in Sagaponack. This year, the former first couple stayed in the guesthouse of Steven Spielberg’s East Hampton compound built on nine acres overlooking Georgica and Lily Ponds.
“The Hamptons is full of powerful, wealthy people who are bored and go to constant social events to see who else got invited and to show your status,” said Ken Sunshine, a veteran Democratic activist and public relations executive with a home in Remsenburg, N.Y. “This year,” he added, “going to a Clinton event is at the very top of the list.”
The conclusion on this peculiar divergence between the image Hillary wishes to portray to America’s everyday folks, and what she is, in fact doing, belongs to the NYT:
“If Mr. Trump appears to be waging his campaign in rallies and network interviews, Mrs. Clinton’s second presidential bid seems to amount to a series of high-dollar fund-raisers with public appearances added to the schedule when they can be fit in. Mrs. Clinton, who has promised to “reshuffle the deck” in favor of the middle class and portrayed Mr. Trump as an out-of-touch billionaire, has almost exclusively been fielding the concerns of the wealthiest Americans.
Once elected, President Hillary Clinton will continue doing precisely that.
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