Former President Barack Obama is set to collect a $400,000 fee for an appearance at a Wall Street conference on health care later this fall, and Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren is making it clear she isn’t exactly thrilled about the idea. Warren has long run on a platform that stresses politicians should not be influenced by “big money,” so she says seeing Obama receiving such a large sum for a short address of the Wall Street firm Cantor Fitzgerald LP clearly gave her some pause, ABC News reports Warrens’ statements from SiriusXM’s Alter Family Politics podcast:
“I was troubled by that … One of the things I talk about in the book [This Fight is Our Fight] is the influence of money. I describe it as a snake that slithers through Washington. And that it shows up in so many different ways here in Washington. People understand the money that goes into campaign contributions. And when I say ‘understand.’ I don’t mean they think it’s okay, but at least people see it. The money that goes into hiring lobbyists, but it’s also the money that goes into bought-and-paid-for experts, the money that goes into think tanks that have these shadowy funders.”
Obama is scheduled to appear as the keynote speaker at a health care conference run by the firm this fall. The reports of the large payment have created a stir within the Democratic party, concerning those who condemn one of their own taking a sum of Wall Street money that may appear to, at least on the outside, be of influence on decisions in the future. Famously, Bernie Sanders harped during his presidential run on that fact that Hilary Clinton had been bought-and-sold by Wall Street, making trust in her decision making shady at best.
Not one to leave an opportunity to pour gasoline on a potential fire within the Democratic party, President Trump retweeted a Fox and Friends tweet of Warren’s remarks.
While Obama has yet to comment on his keynote appearance, a spokesperson from his camp did explain to ABC News that payment for appearances by the former president will be a thing from time to time:
“As we announced months ago, President Obama will deliver speeches from time to time. Some of those speeches will be paid, some will be unpaid, and regardless of venue or sponsor, President Obama will be true to his values, his vision, and his record.”