Hillary Clinton Makes Money for Boeing

Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Hillary Clinton and Boeing in Shanghai (photo: Saul Loeb, AFP/Getty Images)

While serving as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton wasn’t representing only the U.S. government. She also spoke for aircraft manufacturer Boeing, which had been trying to sell some of its commercial jetliners to Russia. Clinton traveled to Moscow and lobbied Russian officials to buy billions of dollars worth of 737s. Her business diplomacy worked, giving a big boost in foreign sales for a U.S. corporation that could become a powerful ally for Clinton if she decides to run for president.


During her October 2009 trip to Russia, Clinton made no effort to hide her plans to help Boeing while meeting with the state-owned airline, Rosavia. This strategy was predicated on the knowledge that “state-owned interests that are especially susceptible to high-level diplomatic lobbying,” according to The Washington Post. At the time, she even told the media that she would make “a shameless pitch for Rosavia…to buy Boeing aircraft.”


Her persuasiveness paid dividends for Boeing, which secured a $3.7 billion contract for the planes only months later.


Shortly after completing the deal, Boeing contributed $900,000 to the William J. Clinton Foundation to help rebuild schools in Haiti damaged by the 2010 earthquake. A Clinton Foundation official said the Boeing donation was not connected to the work Hillary Clinton did on behalf of the aircraft maker.


Nevertheless, the “Boeing relationship meshed well with efforts by Clinton to expand the State Department’s advocacy of U.S. economic interests abroad, part of a broader philosophy that has emphasized partnering government with businesses to solve problems,” the Post’s Rosalind S. Helderman wrote.


Boeing also made a $2 million donation to help the United States host a pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai world’s fair. This came despite a State Department decision against soliciting Boeing for donations to the fair because of the company’s dependence on government contracts.


Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill said that her lobbying for the Boeing contract was “the job that every Secretary of State is supposed to do and what the American people expect of them—especially during difficult economic times. She proudly and loudly advocated on behalf of American business and took every opportunity to promote U.S. commercial interests abroad.”


The lobbying did produce “a potential side benefit for Clinton” who will need “powerful allies in the business community” for her expected presidential bid in 2016.


Although the Russian deal happened four years ago, the Boeing-Clinton connection hasn’t waned. Earlier this month, Boeing lobbyist Tim Keating, who previously worked in the Clinton White House as a special assistant to the president, co-hosted a fundraiser for a super PAC supporting Hillary Clinton (Ready for Hillary).

-Noel Brinkerhoff, Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

For Hillary Clinton and Boeing, a Beneficial Relationship (by Rosalind S. Helderman, Washington Post)

Hillary Clinton Pitches Boeing to Russians (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)



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