“Less than a year after Hillary Clinton became secretary of state, former President Bill Clinton asked the State Department to approve a paid, videotaped speech he was asked to make at a gala in Shanghai, sponsored by a Chinese sports foundation.
Wealthy hedge fund manager Kai Jiang wanted to pay the former president an undisclosed amount through a charity fund set up by his wife, Crystal Huang, a Chinese TV and film star who regularly serves as fodder for the Chinese tabloids.
But unlike hundreds of big-dollar Bill Clinton speeches that sailed through a State Department ethics approval process while Hillary Clinton served as America’s top diplomat, this one raised a note of caution that the Chinese government might actually be funding the speech or planning to profit from it.
The inconclusive bureaucratic back and forth — with weeks of emails asking for greater detail — made clear the difficulties the government faced getting information about Bill Clinton’s far-flung moneymaking efforts through an ethics review process Hillary Clinton agreed to when she joined President Barack Obama’s Cabinet.
(…) “In hundreds of documents released to POLITICO under the Freedom of Information Act, not a single case appears where the State Department explicitly rejected a Bill Clinton speech. Instead, the records show State Department lawyers acted on sparse information about business proposals and speech requests and were under the gun to approve the proposals promptly. The ethics agreement did not require that Clinton provide the estimated income from his private arrangements, making it difficult for ethics officials to tell whether his services were properly valued.
The proposed China speech and one consulting deal with a major player in Middle East policy are the only examples in the released documents where serious concerns were registered. The records include requests to speak to investment groups, colleges and foreign entities.” (Read more: Politico, 2/25/2015)