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Hillary Clinton speaking Wednesday night at a CNN presidential town hall. 

Clinton Brushes Off Wall Street Ties, But Are Voters Buying It?

Clinton defends whopping speaking fees from Goldman Sachs by saying, 'That's what they offered.'

Andrea Germanos

Hillary Clinton's deep ties to Wall Street are under the spotlight again following her defense of taking large speaking fees from Goldman Sachs, as well as campaign finance records showing the tens of millions her campaign and super PACs have received from the financial sector.

Her defense of the speaking fees came Wednesday night during the Democratic Presidential Town Hall hosted by CNN when Anderson Cooper asked if it "was a mistake" or "bad error in judgement" for her to take $675,000 from the investment banking giant for three speeches.

Her response: "Look, I made speeches to lots of groups. I told them what I thought. I answered questions."

"But did you have to be paid $675,000?" Cooper asked.

"Well, I don't know," she said. "That's what they offered. Every secretary of state that I know has done that."

She added that she wasn't committed to running at the time, and said, "They’re not giving me very much money now, I can tell you that much."

Watch the exchange below in this video from CNN:

Clinton's rival Bernie Sanders has previously pointed to those speaking engagements to contrast the two campaigns. He said in an interview last month with the Washington Post:

“I do not believe that you can get huge speaking fees from Goldman Sachs and then with a straight face tell the American people that you’re prepared to do what is necessary to take on the greed and illegal behavior on Wall Street,” Sanders said. “I don’t think people think that passes the laugh test. . . . Why do special powerful interests give you money? Are they dumb? I don’t think so.”

The Post's Chris Cillizza argued that "For Sanders, the speaking fees attack encapsulates all of his strengths and Clinton's weaknesses into a tidy package that is easily understood by almost anyone."

And on Wednesday Sanders told CNN, "To a significant degree, her campaign is funded by Wall Street and big money interests."

The Post, analyzing filings from the Federal Election Commission, reported Thursday on the full tally of the money her campaign is receiving from Wall Street, "a sign of her deep and lasting relationships with banking and investment titans"

Through the end of December, donors at hedge funds, banks, insurance companies and other financial-services firms had given at least $21.4 million to support Clinton’s 2016 presidential run — more than one of every 10 dollars of the $157.8 million contributed to back her bid, according to an analysis of Federal Election Commission filings by The Washington Post.

[...]

In all, donors from Wall Street and other financial-services firms have given $44.1 million to support Hillary Clinton’s campaigns and allied super PACs, compared with $39.7 million in backing that former president Bill Clinton received from the industry, according to campaign-finance records dating back to 1974 that have been compiled by The Post.

Nearly half of the financial-sector donations made to support Hillary Clinton’s current presidential run have come from just two wealthy financiers: billionaire investor George Soros, who gave $7 million last year to the pro-Clinton super PAC Priorities USA Action; and hedge-fund manager S. Donald Sussman, who gave the group $2.5 million.

On top of the funding her campaign, "she personally earned more than $3.7 million for delivering paid speeches to banks and other financial-services firms since leaving the State Department in 2013, personal financial disclosures show," the Post reports.


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