Eli Broad and the Clintons: Update of the Update


By Ken Derstine

October 1, 2015

The most recent link update at the end of the post is October 1, 2015.

On October 1st, the LA Times printed an article by journalist Evan Halper that went into the opposition in teachers unions to union leaders endorsement of Hillary Clinton for president. "Some teachers resisting union endorsement of Hillary Rodham Clinton for president

At its end, this LA Times article cites this website as one of the sources of the discontent with Hillary Clinton, but it distorts what is stated in the article below. A previous LA Times article (linked and quoted in the Update below) says Eli Broad visited the Clintons in 1983, but this new LA Times article does not include that Bill Clinton said in the first LA Times article that Hillary Clinton was Eli Broad’s lawyer at the time.

Is this obfuscation of the deeper relationship between the Clintons and Eli Broad than previously disclosed?

The nature of the Clintons relationship with Eli Broad should be investigated further. When and under what circumstances did Hillary Clinton become Eli Broad's lawyer (assuming Bill Clinton was telling the truth in the interview)? What role did the relationship between Eli Broad and the Clintons play in the development of the neoliberal attack on public education?



Eli Broad and the Clintons: Update

By Ken Derstine

September 22,, 2015

On Sunday, September 20th hundreds of supporters of public schools rallied in Los Angeles to protest corporate education reformer Eli Broad as he opened his new museum. The Broad is a museum designed to show to the world Eli Broad’s “trophy acquisitions from the contemporary art market, tigers’ heads bagged from a notoriously wild and lawless economic jungle.”

The protestors were not at The Broad to protest the crass commercialization of art, however. They took the opportunity to protest their outrage at what Broad would like to do to the public schools of Los Angeles. Eli Broad and corporate education reform backers plan to spend $490 million in an attempt to turn over half of Los Angeles’ public schools to charters in the next eight years.

In the museum were seven hundred invited guests…celebrities, artists, art collectors and arts professional. Topping the list was former President Bill Clinton. The Los Angeles Times report on the gala event had a reveling off the cuff comment by Bill Clinton.

Of his friendship with the Broads, Clinton turned to them and asked, “What year did you come and sit in the living room with me?” Edye Broad noted that Clinton daughter Chelsea, now an active figure in the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative, had been a baby at the time and that Hillary Rodham Clinton, a Democratic presidential candidate and former secretary of State, had been Eli’s lawyer. After settling on 1983, Clinton said, “I looked up one day and Eli was in my living room, and my life has never been the same.” (Boldface added)

This confirms that Eli Broad’s relationship with the Clintons has existed for over thirty years. Bill Clinton was the governor of Arkansas at the time, and Eli Broad was of the owner of the retirement savings company SunAmerica.

At the beginning of his “Courage in the Classroom” bus tour in 2010, Arne Duncan gave a speech at the Clinton Presidential Library and the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service. The U. S. Department of Education report on Duncan’s speech said,

Both as governor of Arkansas and as president, Bill Clinton was an early and active voice in the education reform movement. While in the White House, he pioneered a financial aid program that made the federal government, instead of private banks, the direct lender to college students. This year, Congress expanded the direct lending program, fully eliminating wasteful subsidies to banks and recouping billions of dollars in savings to send millions more needy students to college and invest in our nation’s community college system.

President Clinton also spurred states toward rigorous standards in elementary and secondary education and better assessments of student learning. And in the last year, under the leadership of governors and state education chiefs along with incentives from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA), the movement toward higher standards has advanced considerably, with 36 states and the District of Columbia—and counting—signing on to a common set of college- and career-ready standards that they developed together. ARRA is providing $350 million to develop a set of 21st century assessments that will better measure students’ readiness for college and careers, and the Department plans to award that money to groups of states in the coming weeks.

President Clinton also passed a school-to-work law, recognizing one of the ultimate goals of education—to prepare students for careers that are rewarding to themselves and to society. The Obama administration’s education agenda continues this emphasis on preparation for the workplace, and the Department of Education has proposed regulations to ensure that career-focused college programs are providing training that leads to gainful employment for their graduates.

So, in many aspects of its education agenda, the Obama administration is building on programs and policies for students that began in the Clinton administration nearly two decades ago. (And, coincidentally, President Clinton’s education secretary, Dick Riley, also marked the back-to-school season with a bus tour.) 

From this soil the Eli Broad corporate education reform agenda grew.


This post is an update of the article “Eli Broad and the Clintons” published on June 28, 2015 which traces the evolution of the relationship of Eli Broad and the Clintons.

 Eli Broad and the Clintons

 By Ken Derstine

 June 28, 2015

The Broads and the Clintons at the pre-ball dinner hosted by Eli Broad at the Inauguration of Barack Obama on January 20, 2009. Click here to view more pictures from the event.

For some people, sleep seems incidental. If you’re one of them, I envy you. Bill Clinton, who I have known since he was governor of Arkansas, sticks out in my mind as someone who does exceptionally well with very little rest.

While he was president, he invited me to stay at the White House. It had been a long day and I was tired, so I went to bed a bit early. At 11:30 PM, I woke up to a knock on the door. The president’s usher poked his head in and informed me the president was in the solarium and wanted to chat. There wasn’t much I could say except, “Sure.”

President Clinton came in, sat down, and began talking about everything–the Russian election, the Taiwan Strait, Israel, and why Kentucky was the best of the Final Four in that spring’s college basketball playoffs. We ended up going to bed not long before dawn.

            From The Art of Being Unreasonable by Eli Broad
            John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 2012   p. 40, 41


During his presidency, Bill Clinton started the controversial practice of inviting political supporters to spend the night in the Lincoln Bedroom of the White House. Nearly 1000 White House guests gave more than $10 million in the 1990’s towards his reelection campaign and later to Hillary Clinton’s 2008 Presidential bid. One of the contributors was Eli Broad who gave more than $162,500. From January 1, 1995 to December 31, 1996 Broad gave $100,000 and listed his corporate affiliation as Truman Arnold Companies. Truman Arnold Companies is a $2.2 billion Texarkana, Texas petroleum marketing company. Clinton’s assistant District attorney, Webster Hubbell, who was convicted on corruption charges in 1994, was on the payroll of Truman Arnold and Sun America, Inc., “a California financial services company controlled by Eli Broad, a close Clinton friend who, like Rapoport and Arnold, stayed overnight at the White House.”

Eli Broad started accumulating his riches from a real estate company that he began with his wife’s cousin on borrowed money in 1957. Riding the crest of the expanding real estate market after World War II, particularly with the growth of suburbs around urban areas, Broad began building his millions, later to be billions, when he acquired Sun Life Insurance Company of America in 1971. In 1999, he sold SunAmerica to the American International Group (AIG) for $18 billion. For those who see accumulating wealth as the measure of a man, Broad became an icon fulfilling the American Dream’s Horatio Alger myth of the self-made man becoming incomprehensibly rich.

Fortunately for Eli Broad, his myth could remain intact during the real estate and financial market crashes in 2008 because his affiliation with his real estate business and financial company was years in his past. He stepped down as CEO of Kaufman & Broad in 1974 and CEO of SunAmerica in 2000. AIG was given $182 billion in taxpayer funds in 2008 to prevent the company, and the financial system, from collapsing during the financial market collapse brought on by the real estate market collapse.

In 2000, Broad and his wife Edythe created the “philanthropy” The Broad Foundations. The “philanthropy” became a means for the Broads to bring their Horatio Alger myth to the arts and to education, having no background in either, and, along with other major “philanthropists” like the Gates Foundation and the Walton Foundation, he begin the reshaping of public education in the United States to fit a neoliberal agenda in the interests of the financial oligarchy the 1% is trying to form in the United States.

Bill Clinton’s all night White House meeting with Eli Broad, occurred as Clinton, under the guise of a progressive agenda, was advancing a neoliberal agenda during and after his presidency. Though he claims many of the reactionary laws during his Presidency were due to Republican intransigence, the Democrats controlled both legislative bodies during Clinton’s first term when most of these reactionary laws were passed. He continued with the policies of the Reagan years that were a counter-reform undermining the gains of Roosevelt’s New Deal and the Civil Rights movement of the ‘60’s. Corporate and financial interests had given these concessions because of fears that labor unrest in the 30’s and urban unrest in the 60’s would lead to a political movement that threatened the interests of the 1%. The repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act of 1932 benefited Clinton’s many White House guests and others in the 1% and have led to historic levels of wealth for the 1% even as it has impoverished the 99%. Clinton’s Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 led to an expansion of Reagan’s “War on Drugs” which creation a prison population that is the largest per capita in the world and an expansion of the death penalty for the low-income population. His Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, known as “welfare reform”, was to lead to an explosion of homelessness and low-income or no-income families falling into a poverty not seen since the Great Depression. The North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) opened up corporations to low-wage workers in the developing world and gutted manufacturing in the United States. It is under these conditions that Eli Broad launched his “philanthropies”, including the Broad Superintendents Academy in 2000, to train and insert superintendents in school districts all around the United States who would advance a privatization of public schools agenda. Based on the right-wing economic theories of economist Milton Friedman corporate education reform began a fascistic agenda designed to reshape public schools financially and ideologically for the one percent.

Playing a central role in promoting Clinton’s neoliberal agenda was the Democratic Leadership Council. Formed in 1985 after the defeat of Walter Mondale and the reelection of Ronald Reagan, it became the think tank for many of the rightwing neoliberal policies promoted by Clinton. Clinton was head of the DLC in 1990 until he became President in 1992. A key player shepherding the neoliberal agenda during the Clinton Presidency and after was Bruce Reed who became head of the Democratic Leadership Council in 2001.

On March 22nd, 2010, a New York Times article described his history.

“Mr. Reed was policy director when Mr. Clinton, then the governor of Arkansas, was chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council. Mr. Reed also served as deputy chairman of policy for the 1992 Clinton-Gore campaign, then worked in the White House for all of the Clinton administration.

As head of the Domestic Policy Council, he had a leading role in overhauling welfare in 1996 and in developing initiatives on education, crime, health, tobacco and more. In 2006, back at the Democratic Leadership Council, Mr. Reed and Rahm Emanuel, now the White House chief of staff but then a congressman and Mr. Reed’s friend from their years in the Clinton administration, wrote a book called “The Plan: Big Ideas for America.” It was intended as a platform for the Democrats’ takeover of Congress that year.”

Files in the National Archives show that Reed was heavily involved in developing the Clinton neoliberal education agenda. Files from 1997 – 2000 in 133 folders in 9 boxes “includes material pertaining to national standards and testing; the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and the 1999 efforts to reauthorize the act; 100,000 teachers and class size; charter schools and vouchers; education events and forums; social promotion; Goals 2000; Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally (HOPE) Scholarships; Pell Grants; the Education Flexibility Partnership Act of 1999 (Ed-flex); education funding and budgets; and various school and teacher issues.”

In the final months of the Clinton administration, another controversy erupted over favoritism for wealthy supporters of the Clinton’s neoliberal agenda. Hillary Clinton played an active role in efforts to give tax breaks to private foundations and wealthy charity donors at the same time as donations were being solicited for Bill Clinton’s presidential library. Bruce Reed, who was Clinton’s chief domestic policy advisor at the time, dismissed the controversy saying, Clinton "wanted to give a break to working people for putting a few more dollars in the plate at the church. Not for any other far-fetched reason." Months before proposing the tax breaks, Clinton White House officials had proposed holding a September, 1999 conference to celebrate “philanthropy heroes” who had donated large gifts. The list included “Microsoft's Bill Gates and his wife, Dell computer founder Michael Dell and investors George Soros and Eli Broad”.

In July of 2005 Hillary Clinton was appointed by the Democratic Leadership Council to define the party’s agenda for the upcoming 2006 and 2008 elections. Reed assured an interviewer on NPR that she was on board with the neoliberal agenda but her appointment had nothing to do with a political run for President in 2008.

Despite his endorsement of Hillary Clinton in the 2008 election, Eli Broad was thrilled with the election of Barack Obama. The 2009/2010 Annual Report of the Broad Foundation (page 5) says,

“The election of President Barack Obama and his appointment of Arne Duncan, former CEO of Chicago Public Schools, as the U.S. secretary of education, marked the pinnacle of hope for our work in education reform. In many ways, we feel the stars have finally aligned.

With an agenda that echoes our decade of investments—charter schools, performance pay for teachers, accountability, expanded learning time and national standards—the Obama administration is poised to cultivate and bring to fruition the seeds we and other reformers have planted.”

Arne Duncan had been on the board of the Broad Foundation until he became Secretary of Education (2009/2010 Broad Report page 25) and, according to this Report brought five Broad Residents and alumni with him to the Department of Education. Also on the board (2009/2010 Broad Report page 25)   the Broad Foundation is Larry Summers who served as top economic advisor in the Clinton and Obama administrations after being Chief Economist for the World Bank from 1991–1993. At this time the World Bank was in the midst of playing a leading role in developing a neoliberal education agenda in Chile that began under the Pinochet dictatorship. Among the many former officials in the Clinton administration joining Obama’s administration was Bruce Reed who became Vice President Biden’s chief of staff. On March 22, 2010 he also was appointed executive director of President Obama’s bipartisan commission to reduce the national debt.

On November 13,, 2013, Bruce Reed left as Biden’s chief of staff to become the first President of The Broad Foundation. The website Inside Philanthropy said this appointment made him “one of the powerful people in education philanthropy.” In an interview in the Los Angeles Times on March 13, 2014, about his agenda with the Broad Foundation, Reed gave the standard boilerplate of corporate education reform. This is someone who has never taught a day in his life at any grade level nor had any background in pedagogy or education.

After announcing her run for President on April 12, 2015, Hillary Clinton met with the leadership of the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association in June. She sought to distance herself from her support of No Child Left Behind when she was a Senator in 2001. While she was an early critic of standardized testing, her position seems to shift by which way the political winds are blowing. Given her history with the Broad Foundation, can there be any illusions that she will continue the neoliberal attack on public education? It has been reported that 181 Clinton Foundation donors lobbied the State Department when she was Secretary of State. The two top donors were leaders in corporate education reform: The Microsoft/Gates Foundation ($26,000,000) and the Walmart/Walton Family Foundation ($10,500,00).

Nor can the union leaders be trusted to represent the interests of their members. Randi Weingarten in particular has a history with the Broad Foundation going back to 2002. This collaboration has continued ever since.

In the 2009/2010 Annual Report (Page 10), the Broad Foundation said,

“Teacher unions have always been a formidable voice in public education. We decided at the onset of our work to invest in smart, progressive labor leaders like Randi Weingarten, head of the United Federation of Teachers in New York City for more than a decade and now president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). We partnered with Weingarten to fund two union-run charter schools in Brooklyn and to fund New York City’s first incentive-based compensation program for schools, as well as the AFT’s Innovation Fund. We had previously helped advance pay for performance programs in Denver and Houston, but we were particularly encouraged to see New York City embrace the plan.” 

In 2010 she collaborated with the Gates Foundation to develop a teacher evaluation system based on standardized tests, testifying before Congress three times in support of the effort. A recent study noted the increasing convergence of the goals of Bill Gates and Eli Broad. Randi Weingarten has been collaborating with both. For several years, she has been a leader in the Clinton Global Initiative conferences that bring together corporate and union leaders to foster collaboration in promoting a neoliberal agenda nationally and internationally.

Unless the 99% gets its act together and launches a serious political challenge to the two-party system with a party with a program that represents the interests of the 99%, the November 2016 election will once again be a choice between the lesser of two evils. The problem is the evil just keeps getting worse.


Also see:

AFT Endorses Hillary
Diane Ravitch's Blog - July 11, 2015
Read the comments.

Bill Clinton Is Sorry For A Lot of Things
Huffington Post - July 17, 2015 

Bill Clinton Apologies for His Role in America's Prison Epidemic
Esquire - July 16, 2015 

Why Bill Clinton's Apology and Barack Obama's Prison Drive-By, Token Clemencies Are Cynical Election Year Posturing
Black Agenda Report - July 17, 2015

The War on Drugs is a War on Minorities: Former El Reno Prison Inmate Freed by Obama Speaks Out
Democracy Now! - July 17, 2015 

Hillary: A Presidential Candidate In Need Of An Education
Real Learning CT - July 20, 2015

Hillary Clinton's Mega-Donors Are Also Funding Jeb Bush
Daily Beast - August 4, 2015 

Hillary's Teacher PAC, Part II
Curmudgucation - August 20, 2015 

Hypocrisy on exhibit at L.A.'s Broad museum opening.
Fred Klonsky's blog - September 21, 2015
At the opening of the Broad Museum, Bill Clinton confirmed the Clinton's close relationship with Eli Broad.  

The NEA May Be About to Endorse Hillary Clinton Without Input From Majority of Members
Gadflyonthewallblog – September 21, 2015

The real Obama education legacy
The American Enterpirse Institute - September 21, 2015
The American Enterpirse Institute's Frederick Hess with the neocon view of Obama's education legacy.

 Randi Weingarten: Sleight of Hand Artist - Part 2
Defend Public Education!- April 22, 2015
Analysis of Randi Weingarten's appearance before an audience at the American Enterprise Institute on June 18, 2014. 

LA Plan to Crush Public Education
Curmudgucation - September 22, 2015

Why the Los Angeles Times Missed the Biggest Education News this Week
K-12 News Network’s The Wire – September 24, 2015

Eli Broad, the Billionaire at war with democracy, the want-to-be Emperor of Southern California
Crazy Normal – The Classroom Exposé – September 25, 2015

Some teachers resisting union endorsement of Hillary Rodham Clinton for president
Los Angeles Times – October 1, 2015