Elections

It was Clinton who required transcripts of her speeches

Hillary Clinton, who faces mounting pressure to release transcripts of her paid speeches, routinely demanded that a stenographer be present at her events so she could maintain a record of what she said.

At least four of Clinton’s contracts include a clause stating a transcript would be produced for Clinton and that the former secretary of state would own them and control their release, according to contracts obtained by McClatchy.

“The sponsor will transcribe Speaker’s remarks as they are being delivered, which should be solely for the Speaker’s records,” according to her contract with the University of Buffalo, which paid her $275,000.

Identical words appear in contracts between the Harry Walker Agency, which represents Clinton, and the University of Connecticut, which paid her $250,000; the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, which paid her $225,000, and the University of California at Los Angeles, which paid her $300,000.

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Clinton has been dogged for days about whether she would release transcripts of her speeches, including those from Wall Street firms, that earned her millions of dollars before she launched her second presidential run.

As is her practice, Clinton’s chosen to stay firm against releasing the transcripts.

In January, a reporter asked her after a town hall in Manchester if she would release the transcripts. She laughed and turned away.

In response to a question about whether she would release transcripts Thursday during the fifth and final debate before voting begins in New Hampshire, Clinton said, “I will look into it. I don’t know the status, but I will certainly look into it.”

“I don’t think voters are interested in the transcripts of her speeches,” top Clinton adviser Joel Benenson told reporters Friday.

And on Sunday, she said she would release the transcripts - if everyone who has ever given a paid speech also did. “Let everybody who’s ever given a speech to any private group under any circumstances release them,” she said on ABC’s This Week program. “We’ll all release them at the same time. ... These rules need to apply to everybody.”

Several Republicans have also been paid for speeches. None have released transcripts, but no one has asked either. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has said he would be willing to have the transcripts released.

Sanders said that it would be a good idea for her to release the transcripts, but that it was her decision.

“My understanding now is, her campaign says she’s not going to release those transcripts,” he said on CBS’s Face the Nation. “That’s her decision. But I think it would be a positive thing for the American people to know what was said behind closed doors to Wall Street. But, ultimately, that is her decision.

Andrew Smith, the director of the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, said Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, often try to wait out a controversy in the hopes it goes away.

The contracts between the agency representing her and four public universities are subject to open records law, but contracts with private schools such as Colgate University, Hamilton College, Simmons College and the University of Miami as well as other private groups are not.

Sanders has criticized Clinton for benefiting from a super political action committee and for accepting donations and speaking fees from Wall Street at a time when the United States still is struggling to recover from a recession.

“There is a reason why these people are putting huge amounts of money into our political system,” he said. “It is undermining American democracy.”

Clinton has struggled throughout the campaign with voters who say she is not honest and trustworthy in part because her connections to big banks. More than 80 percent of those who think honesty is the quality that matters the most in a candidate backed Sanders in Iowa, according to entrance polls.

Several news organizations and government watchdog groups have asked for them as well

“We certainly believe Secretary Clinton should release the transcript of her paid speeches,” Common Cause president Miles Rapoport. “Speeches like these are privileged access, purchased by giving her, and others, very large fees. As such they go to the heart of how money influences politics, and voters should have access to what is said and promised at gatherings like these.”

Clinton made about $21.5 million on speeches after she stepped down as the nation’s top diplomat in early 2013 and before she launched her presidential campaign in the spring of 2015.

In answering a question last week about why accepted $675,000 for three speeches from Goldman Sachs, Clinton shrugged and said, “Well, I don’t know. That’s what they offered.”.

Clinton said Friday on MSNBC that she doesn’t regret giving the speeches because they offered her a way to communicate about what she was seeing around the world. Besides, she said, she urged Wall Street reforms before the Great Recession.

“This is an effort by the Sanders’ campaign to basically say, anybody who’s ever taken a donation, not just from Wall Street, if you take it to the natural conclusion, from anybody, is bought and paid for,” she told Andrea Mitchell. “That is absolutely untrue.”

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