Yellen, Blinken made more than $1M from corporate speeches, clients: financial disclosures

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President-elect Joe Biden’s pick to lead the Treasury Department made more than $1 million from speeches and working with corporate clients, according to financial disclosures published on Thursday. 

Janet Yellen, Biden’s nominee to be secretary of Treasury, made more than $7.2 million speaking at Wall Street firms and corporations over the past two years, according to her financial disclosure form

The president-elect’s choice for secretary of State, Antony Blinken, has made almost $1.2 million in the past two years through consulting clients at the firm WestExec Advisors, according to his financial disclosure

The large amounts of money collected by Biden’s Cabinet picks could complicate progressive support for the nominees during the Senate confirmation hearings. 

Yellen, whom progressives praised when Biden named her as the Treasury nominee, made millions in speaking fees from Citi, Goldman Sachs, Google, City National Bank, UBS, Citadel LLC, Barclays, Credit Suisse, Salesforce and others. For Citi alone, she received $1 million for nine speeches, and for Citadel, a hedge fund founded by a Republican donor, she received more than $800,000.

The potential secretary of Treasury also vowed to talk with the department’s ethics lawyers to “seek written authorization to participate personally and substantially in any particular matter” that involve firms that paid her in the past year.

Meanwhile, the secretary of State nominee disclosed the clients that he worked with at WestExec Advisors, which included Blackstone, Bank of America, Facebook, Uber, McKinsey & Company, the Japanese conglomerate SoftBank, the pharmaceutical company Gilead, the investment bank Lazard, Boeing, AT&T, the Royal Bank of Canada and LinkedIn.

In addition to the almost $1.2 million made in the past two years, Blinken is expected to earn an estimated $250,000 to $500,000 this year. 

His financial disclosure indicates that he plans to sell his stake at WestExec, amounting to between $500,000 and $1 million, and also divest his stake in sister company WestExec Ventures, which amounts to between $1 million and $5 million.

A Biden transition official told Politico the team filed the disclosure forms “mid-week” and the Office of Government Ethics posted them on New Year’s Eve. 

The transition official stood by Yellen’s financial past, saying, “Take a look at her record on enforcement — this is not someone who pulls punches when it comes to bad actors or bad behavior.”

“You can expect she will bring the same high ethical standards and tough enforcement philosophy to Treasury,” the official added. 

A transition spokesperson said Yellen has given speeches “after several decades in public service” to discuss “her experiences and her views on what we can do as a country to build a stronger economy and increase our competitiveness.”

“Her experience and expertise are the reasons President-elect Biden wanted her on his team working for him and on behalf of the American people to help us build back better from this economic crisis,” the spokesperson said in a statement to The Hill.
“It’s clear that leaders in academia, business and economics were seeking informed, thoughtful insight on the economy during a chaotic time for the country when there were few trusted voices in government,” they added.

Another nominee whose disclosure form may present a problem is the potential Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, who was a principal and consultant at WestExec. She reported $180,000 in “consulting fees” from data-mining company Palantir.

The transition spokesperson said in a statement that Haines “served as a consultant whose limited scope of work was primarily focused on the company’s diversity and inclusion efforts, particularly increasing gender diversity.”

Updated: 12:53 p.m.

Tags Antony Blinken Biden cabinet Biden transition Department of Treasury financial disclosure financial disclosure forms Janet Yellen Joe Biden Speeches State Department Treasury Department WestExec
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