Multiplayer Trade

by The New Republic | April 8, 2008

Even as the Clinton campaign continues to take flak from opponents and supporters alike over its non-dismissal dismissal of Mark Penn for his work on behalf of a free trade deal with Colombia, it turns out he's not the only top Hillarylander who's been handsomely paid by those pushing for a trade agreement:

Former President Bill Clinton has earned hundreds of thousands of dollars speaking on behalf of a Colombia-based group pushing the trade pact, and representatives of that organization tell The Huffington Post that the former president shared their sentiment.

In June 2005, Clinton was paid $800,000 by the Colombia-based Gold Service International to give four speeches throughout Latin America. The organization is, ostensibly, a development group tasked with bringing investment to the country and educating world leaders about the Colombia's business opportunities.

The group's chief operating officer, Andres Franco, said in an interview that the group supports the congressional ratification of the free trade agreement and that, when Clinton was on his speaking tour, he expressed similar opinions. "He was supportive of the trade agreement at the time that he came, but that was several years ago. In the present context, I don't know what his position would be."

There's more on Bill Clinton's evident sympathy for Colombia's position here. Under normal circumstances, I don't think this would be likely to register much politically. But with Penn's demotion putting the Colombia deal squarely on the table, it may be a different story.

It's also worth noting that this is at least the second time that Bill's big-money post-presidential dealings, both nonprofit and for-profit, have apparently put him on the opposite side of an issue from Hillary. (The first was his praise for Kazakh president Nazarbayev, disturbingly chronicled here.)

Update: Ben Smith has more on Bill Clinton's 2005 support for the trade pact here.

--Christopher Orr

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