Former US President Barack Obama has begun a lucrative job, working as a speaker for Wall Street less than a year after leaving office, reports say.
Obama is set to be paid $1.2 million for a series of speeches to major Wall Street firms, a practice which drew harsh criticism for Hillary Clinton, a Democratic presidential candidate, during last year’s campaign.
The former president is slated to appear before a “who’s who” of the US health care industry at a conference next week held by the New York trading firm Cantor Fitzgerald.
He will give a speech on his health care program known as Obamacare and then will take questions from the audience.
According to a person briefed on Obama’s planned appearance, he will be paid about $400,000 for his speeches at the three-day event.
“Everybody would like to come. Hopefully, we will really talk about the Affordable Care Act in interesting and nuanced ways, which I think is really cool,” said Howard Lutnick, CEO of the company.
The president also made $800,000 for two speeches, one he gave to clients of the Chicago private banking and wealth management firm Northern Trust in August and another one last week to Carlyle Group LP.
Among the panelists at the August event were billionaire former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, chief Microsoft cybersecurity adviser Jonathan Trull and IBM general manager for “blockchain” technology Marie Wieck.
Also in April, Obama made another $400,000 for a 90-minute conversation with presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin at New York’s Pierre Hotel, at an event that was organized by A&E Networks, a cable network.
A spokesman for Obama, however, defended the former president, saying he has given speeches “true to his values.”
“His paid speeches in part have allowed President Obama to contribute $2 million to Chicago programs offering job training and employment opportunities to low-income youth,” Kevin Lewis said.
Clinton, Obama’s first term secretary of state, made 92 speeches to banks, financial services organizations and similar ones between 2013 and 2015, earning up to $21.6 million in two years.