Just what exactly did Hillary Clinton tell Wall Street bankers when she thought only they were listening?
"I am very happy to release all of my paid speeches to Wall Street. Here it is... There ain’t none."
—Bernie SandersWhen she was first asked the question last month by a journalist during a campaign stop in New Hampshire, Clinton just laughed in response before turning away. Subsequently, during a televised debate, Clinton said she would "look into" it.
But the concern over the content of her paid speeches to Wall Street firms has only grown in recent weeks and on Tuesday night, during a town hall event in South Carolina, Clinton answered the question by saying she would only release transcripts of her remarks if "everybody does it" and argued that she was being treated differently than other presidential candidates. "Why is there one standard for me and not for everybody else?" she asked CNN moderator Chris Cuomo.
"That includes the Republicans," said Clinton, "Because we know they have given a lot of speeches."
Watch the exchange with Clinton:
Earlier in the event, Bernie Sanders was asked if he would release transcripts of his paid speeches or appearances.
"I have given some speeches, and money was donated to charity way, way back," Sanders responded. "I got a few dollars. If I can find the transcripts, I’m very, very happy to do it."
But making the obvious contrast, Sanders explained that he has never agreed to the kind of speaking engagements that resulted in millions of dollars of fees like the ones given by Clinton after she left the State Department.
"I am very happy to release all of my paid speeches to Wall Street. Here it is... There ain’t none," Sanders said, throwing his hands in the air and receiving laughter from the crowd. "I don’t do that. I don’t get speakers’ fees from Goldman Sachs. It’s not there."
According to The Intercept:
By giving just 12 speeches to Wall Street banks, private equity firms, and other financial corporations, Clinton made $2,935,000 from 2013 to 2015, including $675,000 for three speeches in 2013 to Goldman Sachs, an investment bank known for using its ties to public officials to influence policy.
Clinton’s position on releasing the transcripts appears to be a subtle moving of the goalposts. Previously, her answer that she would release her transcripts when her opponents released theirs was understood to be directed at Sanders. Last week, Sanders agreed to release speeches he has given. In 2014, he made $1,867.42 for three appearances, donating the proceeds to charity.
Cruz and Rubio have not done any recent paid speeches. Trump did seven paid speeches between 2014 and 2015, to shopping centers, realty companies, and other similar firms. Ben Carson is doing paid speeches as he campaigns.
As Common Dreams previously reported, the Sanders campaign has seized on Clinton's refusal to release the transcripts, arguing that because future regulation of Wall Street is a central issue of the Democratic primary, the speaking engagements—and what was said during them—remains a vital piece of information for voters looking for candidates who are committed to reforming the financial industry.
Following Tuesday night's town hall event, Sanders criticized Clinton's response about the controversial speeches. "[Hillary Clinton] believes Republicans should set the standard for disclosure of her Wall Street speeches," Sanders tweeted. "Aren’t we better than that?"