Some people get a gold watch, some get a nice potted plant, others leave their job with a just handshake and a “job well done.” Leave it to Hillary Clinton to out-do them all: as she cleared her desk and pulled the door shut for the last time as Secretary of State, her retirement “thank you” from the Obama administration was a nice little “retirement of her debt,” gift, plus a little “extra change” bonus.
Yes, the debt left over from her 2008 campaign for president – the one she lost to the very man who’s been her boss most recently – that debt is gone, finito, paid up, zero balance. Well, actually it’s not zero balance; after getting together enough donors to participate in the “pool,” so to speak, the very efficient ring-leaders of the fundraising effort ended up pulling in enough money to not only pay off Clinton’s debt, but leave about $205,000 in the coffers for…future endeavors.
And who is this whiz team? According to an anonymous source who spoke to Bloomberg Business Week, the idea was hatched almost a year ago by Steve Spinner, a California finance chairman for the Obama campaign; Jane Stetson, the former Democratic National Committee finance chairwoman, and Henry Munoz, the incoming DNC finance chairman.
The challenge was tougher than it may appear, since it required a particular kind of donor. In order not to run afoul of campaign finance laws, the Obama team had to find people who had not already given Clinton the 2008 maximum primary donation of $2,300 or maxed out their total federal candidate donations during the 2012 cycle ($46,200). And of course, those people also had to be warmly disposed toward Clinton and still have plenty of free cash on hand.
The team found them by assigning an intern to comb through the records at OpenSecrets.org and see who still had room to give. In the end, it took the checkbooks of about 120 people and several months to retire the debt.
Ms. Clinton, who, by law, could not do any political fundraising while Secretary of State, would have exited office with about $250,000 remaining on what had been a $20 million debt load. While that was significant progress on getting it paid off, the Obama and his donors wanted to surprise her with a “thank you” gift with some real heft and, by all accounts, they pulled it off.
Given their skills, and her current standing as the most popular politician in America, Ms. Clinton might want to keep the names of those three in the Rolodex; rumor has it there’s another campaign ramping up for, say, 2016.