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Big-Time Speaking Fees, Campaign Donations Make It Clear Clinton's Cozy With Wall Street

Hillary Clinton is a champion of the poor and the middle class, but has a net worth of more than $110 million.

Clinton is an enemy of the 1 percent, who happens to get $225,000 offers from Wall Street companies to give glowing speeches about their work.

Clinton is a true progressive and principled Wall Street reformer who will take financial fat cats to task, even though four of her campaign's top five donors are Wall Street financial firms.

If you're struggling to reconcile Clinton's descriptions of herself with the reality of her cozy relationship with Wall Street, you're not alone. It's a struggle Democrats are wrestling with right now as the choice between Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont doubles as a choice for the soul of the Democratic Party.

To hear Clinton tell it, questions about her close relationship with Wall Street are tantamount to another "vast right wing conspiracy," an "artful smear" by the Sanders campaign and other haters.

When the Sanders campaign -- and debate moderators -- kept bringing up the inconvenient fact that Clinton took more than $9 million in speech money from banks, Clinton suddenly recast herself as the original Wall Street reformer, the only sage in the country prescient enough to know exactly where the economy was headed.

"What I want people to know is, I went to Wall Street before the crash," Clinton said. "I was the one saying you're going to wreck the economy because of these shenanigans with mortgages ... I think the best evidence that the Wall Street people, at least know, where I stand and where I have always stood is because they are trying to beat me in this primary."

And how do you show your strong opposition to a candidate? By giving millions to their campaigns, millions more in personal money for speeches, and tens of millions to their super PACs, of course.

To understand the contempt Clinton has for American voters -- and the time-honored American value of transparency -- all you have to do is watch a 31-second clip of her encounter with a political reporter.

"Hi, Secretary Clinton, will you release the transcripts of your paid speeches to Goldman Sachs?" the reporter asked.

Clinton laughed in his face, and then ignored him.

That wasn't an option during a town hall debate in New Hampshire, when CNN anchor Anderson Cooper asked Clinton about the enormous sums she's earned from speaking at Wall Street fetes.

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

Clinton couldn't simply laugh in Cooper's face this time, not during a nationally televised debate.

"Well, I don't know," the candidate said with an awkward shrug. "Um, that's what they offered."

The audience laughed at the unintentionally hilarious answer, as if Clinton was comedian Louis CK with a zinger.

Here's the thing: Clinton made more money in just one half-hour speech than most Americans make in four years. It's more money than most American CEOs make in a year. It's the kind of payday that's incomprehensible to most Americans, especially Americans who are still reeling from the consequences of Wall Street's rule-bending. Voters don't believe Clinton is sincere when she says she's an enemy of Wall Street excess, and who can blame them?

Yes, most presidential candidates and members of Congress are millionaires. Yes, many of them go on paid speaking tours after leaving office. But the difference is, they don't take the money, then reinvent themselves as Wall Street reformers and champions of the middle class during presidential campaigns.

If you're going to earn $225,000 for a half hours' work, and take millions from the same financial institutions you say you're fighting against, you'd better have a good answer for it. So far, Hillary doesn't.

Click here for the opposing view on this topic.

Sources: Fox News,, The Intercept, YouTube, Real Clear Politics, The Washington Post / Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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