Factchecker: Hillary Clinton's Wall Street/Iowa contributions

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“Hillary Clinton has gotten 54 times more money from Wall Street interests than from all of Iowa. Hillary rewarded Wall Street with a $700 billion bailout, then Wall Street made her a multimillionaire. Does Iowa really want Wall Street in the White House?”

Source of claim: American Crossroads, a GOP Super PAC founded by Karl Rove, former deputy chief of staff and senior adviser to President George W. Bush, makes the claim in a 30-second ad airing in Iowa this month.


American Crossroads did not respond to a request for its sourcing, but the TV ad includes on-screen citations as the claims are made. We’ll take these one at a time.

A November report by the Washington Post investigated Bill and Hillary Clinton’s donor network and identified donations from about 336,000 individuals, corporations and unions that gave to the Clinton’s political or philanthropic endeavors.

According to the report, by Sept. 30, Hillary Clinton had received $6.42 million in donations toward her 2016 presidential campaign from employees and PACs of banks, credit card companies, securities and investment firms, accounting firms and insurance companies — organizations commonly called Wall Street groups.

Now what about her Iowa donations?

Fact Checker turned to the Federal Election Commission. According to its 2016 Presidential Campaign Finance data, Clinton got $111,584 in contributions from Iowans through Sept. 30.

While that figure looks somewhat small, Clinton has received the second-highest financial support from Iowans among the candidates, falling below Republican Ben Carson’s $153,017. Clinton’s top Democratic challenger, Bernie Sanders, received less than $58,000.

Based on those figures, the ad actually understates the ratio of donations to Clinton the came from Wall Street compared with Iowa. It’s closer to 57 times more.

The second claim by American Crossroads is that Wall Street interests made Clinton a multimillionaire after her support for a $700 billion bailout. The ad shows the number “$3.15 million” and references a CNN report.

The bailout portion of this claim is easily determined. H.R. 1424, commonly referred to as the bailout of the U.S. financial system, passed the Senate on Oct. 1, 2008. Clinton, then a New York senator, was one of the 74 senators in favor. Two days later, President George W. Bush signed it into law.

For its $3.15 million claim, American Crossroads cites a CNN report from October, which delves into Clinton’s fees for speeches, using her tax returns as sourcing.

Using those returns, specifically the 2013 speech income document, we can see that Clinton charged $225,000 per speech. Fourteen of those speeches were for banks, investment firms or financial companies like Morgan Stanley, Bank of America and USB Wealth Management. The Goldman Sachs Group alone hosted three speeches that year, costing $675,000 in total.

Math for Clinton’s speeches for such companies comes to $3.15 million, which shows where American Crossroads got its number.

It should be noted Clinton charged $225,000 for at least 40 speeches made that year, which included other organizations such as Gap Inc. and Verizons Communications.

And while the ad implies a cause and effect relationship since the bailout. it’s not that simple — the Clintons have been close to Wall Street groups since the 1990s.


A data search finds the ad’s comparison of Clinton’s donations from Wall Street with Iowa to be right — the gap is actually larger.

It’s impossible to verify whether Clinton’s financial support from Wall Street groups is tied to the bailout. The numbers, however, show Wall Street interests paid millions in speaking fees to her subsequently.

That said, Fact Checker scores the two claims measured in the American Crossroads ad an A.


The Fact Checker team checks statements made by an Iowa political candidate/office holder or a national candidate/office holder about Iowa, or in advertisements that appear in our market. Claims must be independently verifiable. We give statements grades from A to F based on accuracy and context.

If you spot a claim you think needs checking, email us at factchecker@thegazette.com.

This Fact Checker was researched and written by Mitchell Schmidt.

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