Clinton rakes in cash overseas

Clinton rakes in cash overseas
© Greg Nash

Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonI voted for Trump in 2020 — he proved to be the ultimate RINO in 2021 Neera Tanden tapped as White House staff secretary Meghan McCain: 'SNL' parodies made me feel like 'laughing stock of the country' MORE's campaign has held more fundraisers on foreign soil than any other candidate running for president in 2016.

The Clinton campaign has held at least 13 fundraisers overseas so far, involving celebrities such as jazz singer Tony Bennett and fashion editor Anna Wintour, according to tracking of political fundraising invitations by the nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation. 

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Clinton’s offshore fundraisers, which tap wealthy U.S. citizens and permanent resident living abroad, have spanned from London, where the campaign has held at least eight fundraisers, to Munich, Mexico City, and Durban, South Africa. 

None of the Clinton campaign's foreign events, so far as the invitations suggest, have featured the candidate herself, though surrogates including her daughter Chelsea, have hosted the high-priced gatherings.

No other candidate running for president this cycle has done anything remotely approaching the amount of overseas fundraising as Clinton's campaign has done to date.

The former secretary of State has dwarfed her rivals in expatriate cash, raised at least $495,000 so far from Americans living abroad, according to The Hill's analysis of federal election records.

Clinton's rival in the Democratic primary race, Bernie SandersBernie SandersOvernight Health Care — Presented by Carequest — Study finds Pfizer vaccine almost 91 percent effective for 5 to 11 year olds The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Uber - Manchin, Sanders in budget feud; Biden still upbeat Democratic frustration with Sinema rises MORE, has raised less than a quarter of that, and the three Republicans still in the race have raised relatively miniscule amounts from Americans abroad.

Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOvernight Health Care — Presented by Carequest — Colin Powell's death highlights risks for immunocompromised The Senate confirmation process is broken — Senate Democrats can fix it Australian politician on Cruz, vaccines: 'We don't need your lectures, thanks mate' MORE has raised just $23,000 overseas; Donald TrumpDonald TrumpHillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — Twitter's algorithm boosts right-leaning content, internal study finds Ohio Democrat calls Vance an 'ass----' over Baldwin tweet Matt Taibbi says Trump's rhetoric caused public perception of US intelligence services to shift MORE — who has a “donate” button on his website but doesn’t hold fundraisers — took in $1100; and John Kasich has raised only $50 from overseas donors, according to figures disclosed in the most recent reporting period.

Even Jeb Bush, who has a wide political network overseas through his family’s connections, only raised slightly more than $200,000 from Americans living abroad.

No foreign fundraising invitations could be found by the Sunlight Foundation for any other candidate besides Clinton. One of the rare examples of a foreign fundraiser for a 2016 presidential candidate found on the public record is former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who went to Israel last year in part to raise money for his campaign.

While overseas fundraisers are hardly a new practice for well-known establishment candidates; the Clinton campaign is on pace to exceed even what the sitting President Barack Obama managed in 2012, assuming she becomes the Democratic nominee.  

Throughout the two years of the 2012 presidential cycle, President ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaObama pays tribute to Merkel Supreme Court agrees to review Texas's 6-week abortion ban Youngkin to launch bus tour on same day as Obama, McAuliffe event in Virginia MORE's campaign held at least 13 fundraising events on foreign soil in countries as far-reaching as China and Egypt, according to the Sunlight Foundation. Republican nominee Mitt Romney's campaign held at least four fundraisers in London and Jerusalem.

Long-time Democratic fundraiser Kenneth Christensen, whose D.C.-based consulting firm Christensen & Associates helps candidates set up their finance operations, says he's not surprised that the Clinton campaign has established a more powerful offshore finance machine than any other candidate.

"Obviously with the Clintons they have a lot of experience in doing that. They give lots of speeches overseas, and they run into a lot of people," Christensen told The Hill in a telephone interview Friday. "A lot of that fundraising overseas are relationships they already have." 

Christensen, who is focusing on Democratic congressional races this cycle, indicated it would be professionally negligent not to take full advantage of Clinton's relationships to finance what is becoming an expensive primary race against a well-funded Bernie Sanders campaign. The Clinton advantages include her global connections as a former secretary of State, her family's foundation, and above all, the unparalleled donor network established by both Bill and Hillary Clinton over several decades.

Clinton's offshore fundraisers so far this cycle have included a post-concert reception at London's Royal Albert Hall with Tony Bennett, a "discussion" between Chelsea Clinton and Anna Wintour, and a Munich Fashion Week event with former ambassador Melanne Verveer.

Clinton has also held several fundraisers in Mexico. One of the co-hosts of a February fundraising dinner was Wal-Mart lobbyist Ivan Zapien, who relocated to Mexico with the company in 2015. Clinton served on the board of Wal-Mart from 1986-1992. 

The Federal Election Commission, which regulates campaign fundraising, stipulates that "foreign nationals are prohibited from making any contributions or expenditures in connection with any election in the U.S." But the FEC allows that both U.S. citizens and "green card" holders living abroad (individuals lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the U.S.) "are not considered foreign nationals and, as a result, may contribute."

"I would expect a professional campaign to take advantage of all their fundraising opportunities," Christensen said. "She's capitalizing on it now to make sure she's running an aggressive and professional fundraising operation."