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Wed Feb 24, 2016, 03:30 PM

HRC's Final Paid Speech

Why would a 501c3 non-profit organized to promote summer camps spend 10 per cent of its annual budget[1] on a Hillary Clinton speech?

That was the simple question I wanted to answer when I began researching this piece. I’d flippantly doubted that the American Camp Association would pay $225K for a speech and was corrected by kossack northleft that the actual amount was $260K. Intrigued by the notion that Hillary Clinton knew anything about camping, I soon found myself exploring a much deeper set of issues.

On March 19, 2015 Hillary Clinton made the last of a series of paid speeches to the Tri-State Chapter of the American Camp Association (ACA). Twenty-four days later she would declare her candidacy for the presidency. While much has been made of her behind-closed-doors speeches to Goldman Sachs, the ACA speech and its follow-up Q&A session with former NY Democratic Party Chair Jay Jacobs, who owns Timber Lake, an overnight camp in the Catskill Mountains, was available right here on Daily Kos[2].

The Clinton speech was a departure for the ACA, which typically presents keynotes by child development experts and professionals associated with camp-related issues. It was a light and conversational 26 minutes that touched on politics only to the extent that Clinton facetiously suggested that the adults in Washington would do well to go to a bipartisan camp. It was Blue Cabin meet Red Cabin fluff, which got a couple of good laughs. The Q&A session lasted 36 minutes. So who was she talking to?

The American Camp Association is a national non-profit 501c3 that has 10,000 members and three regional affiliates that represent 2,500 summer and day camps throughout the U.S. It provides professional development and educational opportunities for the camp industry and among its top public-policy priorities lobbies for the Camp Counselor[3] and Student Work Travel (SWT) [4] categories of the J-1 visa program administered by the U.S. State Department.

State Department J-1 Visa Program Advocacy

According to the ACA’s own advocacy materials, 25,000 individuals were placed in ACA camps through the State Department’s Exchange Visitor Program in 2011– 20,000 from the specific Camp Counselor category; and 5,000 from the SWT category. Both categories of student workers are facilitated by a network of 49 State Department-approved “sponsors”. In effect, these are staffing agencies that work with feeder organizations in dozens of countries that recruit international students and workers to come to the U.S. for a four-month cultural/work experience.

The SWT program grew dramatically – from 20,000 participants in the early 1990s to a peak of 153,000 workers in 2008. It is currently capped at 109,000 workers after public outrage over widespread abuses of working conditions, accommodation, compensation and a non-existent cultural component.

Participants pay significant fees to the sponsoring agencies ($1100 to $2000) in the hope they will experience America and make some money while they are here. In reality, the experience is often far removed from the exciting marketing materials on sponsor web sites. Sixty to eighty-hour weeks of making beds, flipping burgers, working the night shift and sleeping four, six or eight to a room in poor accommodations for minimum wage are all too common.

Employers in such resort towns as Ocean City, Maryland, employ thousands of these SWT workers for a variety of reasons divorced from any notion of cultural exchange. For starters, they save 8 per cent over the cost of employing domestic workers because they don’t have to contribute to Social Security, Medicare or Federal Unemployment Insurance.

The Camp Counselor program which the ACA fully embraces, offers similar advantages to employers. State Department rule changes in 2012 sought to draw a clearer distinction between counselors and SWT staff roles but tremendous ambiguity and virtually non-existent enforcement remain.

Those sponsoring agencies that do present an accurate picture of the job explain that counselors work 10 to 14 hours a day, six days a week during a nine-week camp placement. Sponsoring agencies describe compensation as a stipend[5] and an ACA 2013 FAQ as “pocket money”[6]. Even using the high end of the stipend range ($1800), you get abysmal compensation: $1800 for nine 72-hour weeks, works out to $2.77 an hour.

Undoubtedly there are some cultural benefits for young campers exposed to international counselors, but it would be naive to think that the obvious financial incentives for the camp owners are not front and center in the decision to hire staff from abroad. For argument’s sake, if we simply distributed the 20,000 counselors and 5,000 SWTs that the ACA claimed were employed in its 2,500 camps during 2011, each camp would have employed eight J-1 visa counselors and two J-1 visa SWT workers. In other words, the camp industry relies heavily on this cheaper international labor force.

Major Problems with the J-1 Labor Pipeline

In 2014, The Southern Policy Law Center (SPLC) presented a report titled Culture Shock: The Exploitation of J-1 Cultural Exchange Workers,[7] which argued

“The undeniable conclusion is that these J-1 programs, an initiative once envisioned as a tool of diplomacy, has become little more than a source of cheap labor for employers.”

Bernie Sanders, during debate on the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill S.744 , called the program “a scam.”

“It is not a cultural-exchange program,” he said. “It is displacing young American workers at a time of double-digit unemployment among young people, and it is putting downward pressure on wages at a time when the American people are working longer hours for lower wages.” [8]

In response, the ACA lobbied to keep the program alive. Quoting from its 2014 annual report, it argued that the ”ACA successfully mobilized the community to advocate for the continuation of the government program that allows for international visitors to serve as camp staff, thereby providing amazing cultural exchange programs for American kids and foreign nationals. This program was at risk during the Congressional debates regarding immigration reform.[9]”

Daniel Costa, Director of Immigration Law and Policy Research at the Economic Policy Institute, summed up the disastrous state of the program exactly one year to the day before former secretary of state Clinton delivered her American Camp Association speech.[10]

“It’s now clear to almost everyone that the Summer Work Travel Program is in dire straits - and it’s a black eye on our immigration system. And because the noble goal of facilitating cultural exchanges will NOT be negatively affected if the program is shrunk dramatically or even eliminated, it’s time for President Obama and Congress to direct the State Department to suspend and fix the SWT program immediately. If State fails to act, Congress should eliminate SWT altogether.


Placing a $260,000 Bet on Favorable Executive Action

Consider the final paragraph, on the final page of the ACA’s FY2014 financial disclosures (New York Section), which I might add are not available currently on the ACA NYNJ site (as of 2/21/2016). It took some digging to find the information on charitiesnys.com.

“For the March 2015 Tri-State Camping Conference, the Organization hired a high-profile politician as a guest speaker, which resulted in an additional cost of $260,000. This was a one-time expense and such expenses are not expected to occur in the subsequent year.”[11]


Returning then to my original question: Why does a non-profit spend 10 per cent of its annual budget, ten times what it would normally pay for a keynote speaker,[12] increase its annual total expense line item for “speaker presentations” from $102,784 to $350,619 for a high-profile politician and present her to an audience probably split in its political loyalties?

The answer is obvious. It was a strategic calculation on the association’s part to secure future consideration for the J-1 visa programs the industry relies on. As a near-term-future president the former Secretary of State would have tremendous discretion in rule-making given both her familiarity with the subject and the likelihood that immigration reform in a partisan Washington may be achievable only through piecemeal executive action.

There can be no doubt that Hillary Clinton was and is aware of the industry’s focused immigration interests. Of course you can make the default argument that this is just the way things are done in American politics and that there is no proof that any quid pro quo will ever take place, but it appears even more cynical to accept $260,000 from this organization in the context of these immigration and economic issues than the bottomless pockets of Goldman Sachs.

It’s disappointing that even this innocuous paid speech, the last in series of speeches rife with high-profile question marks, has a lousy backstory upon closer inspection.

Daily Kos w/Links

I appreciate all of the positive comments for this my first (and perhaps only) appearance on the rec list. Kossack, gooderservice, suggested I give you all permission to repost this diary in its entirety elsewhere with attribution. Happy to do that. Post anywhere you think it might be valued. VeloDramatic.


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Footnotes

1 - New York Section of American Camp Association 2014 Financials

2 - Daily Kos Diary containing full video of Clinton speech to American Camp Association

3 - US State Department J-1 Visa - Camp Counselor

4 - US State Department J-1 Visa - Student Work Travel

5 - Camp Counselor Stipend

6 - Camp Counselor "Pocket Money"

7 - Southern Poverty Law Center - Culture Shock: The Exploitation of J-1 Cultural Exchange Workers

8 - Bernie Sander’s Comments on J-1 Visa Workers During S.744 Immigration Debate

9 - American Camp Association Lobbies for J-1 Status Quo 2014 Annual Report, pg 9

10 - Daniel Costa, Economic Policy Institute Article — J-1 Program Poorly Regulated my emphasis

11- New York Section, ACA financial disclosure Notes to Financial Statements June 30, 2015 and 2014

12 - 2016 Tri-State American Camp Conference Closing Keynote,
Dr. Angela Duckworth (Speaking Fees)


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Arrow 43 replies Author Time Post
Reply HRC's Final Paid Speech (Original post)
Oilwellian Feb 2016 OP
nashville_brook Feb 2016 #1
UglyGreed Feb 2016 #8
Dark n Stormy Knight Feb 2016 #27
UglyGreed Feb 2016 #29
hifiguy Feb 2016 #25
Oilwellian Feb 2016 #2
Jarqui Feb 2016 #4
libtodeath Feb 2016 #23
valerief Feb 2016 #3
SoapBox Feb 2016 #5
hifiguy Feb 2016 #26
arcane1 Feb 2016 #28
kgnu_fan Feb 2016 #6
UglyGreed Feb 2016 #7
FangedNoumenom Feb 2016 #9
senz Feb 2016 #10
olddots Feb 2016 #11
MaggieD Feb 2016 #12
UglyGreed Feb 2016 #13
MaggieD Feb 2016 #14
BernieforPres2016 Feb 2016 #16
MaggieD Feb 2016 #20
UglyGreed Feb 2016 #17
MaggieD Feb 2016 #21
UglyGreed Feb 2016 #22
MaggieD Feb 2016 #30
UglyGreed Feb 2016 #31
BernieforPres2016 Feb 2016 #18
libtodeath Feb 2016 #24
MaggieD Feb 2016 #32
UglyGreed Feb 2016 #33
MaggieD Feb 2016 #35
UglyGreed Feb 2016 #36
MaggieD Feb 2016 #39
UglyGreed Feb 2016 #40
MaggieD Feb 2016 #41
UglyGreed Feb 2016 #42
libtodeath Feb 2016 #34
UglyGreed Feb 2016 #37
libtodeath Feb 2016 #38
BernieforPres2016 Feb 2016 #15
MaggieD Feb 2016 #19
CdnExtraNational Feb 2016 #43

Response to Oilwellian (Original post)

Wed Feb 24, 2016, 03:45 PM

1. Disney has been exploiting this program for ages

Epcot especially uses these programs to hire people at slave wages. Then they have to live in Disney condos and buy everything thru the "company store" -- at the end of the experience they're lucky if they don't OWE Disney money for the luxury of working their asses off for them.

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Response to nashville_brook (Reply #1)

Fri Feb 26, 2016, 05:21 PM

8. Owe my soul to the company store

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Response to UglyGreed (Reply #8)

Fri Feb 26, 2016, 06:43 PM

27. Good ole Johnny Cash!

One of the guys a play with does a great version of this song, too. I have to admit, I've never heard the author, Merle Travis's version. YouTube here I come.

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Response to Dark n Stormy Knight (Reply #27)

Fri Feb 26, 2016, 06:48 PM

29. I always thought Tennessee Ernie Ford

wrote it thanks for setting me straight I just listened Merle

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Response to nashville_brook (Reply #1)

Fri Feb 26, 2016, 06:40 PM

25. Disney is something close to evil incarnate.

 

THey're responsible for every "modification" of the Copyright Act over the last 50 years. That sad, battered piece of legislation is more properly called the "Protect Mickey Mouse in Perpetuity Act."

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Response to Oilwellian (Original post)

Wed Feb 24, 2016, 04:07 PM

2. Yeah, this seems to be a program designed for

American corporations who can't take advantage of slave wages overseas, so why not bring the slaves here under the guise of an American cultural experience!?

This quid pro quo at the expense of the American worker is just so sickening.

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Response to Oilwellian (Reply #2)

Wed Feb 24, 2016, 04:10 PM

4. +1

A small outfit like that coming up with $260,000 for a 26 minute chat. This would be a great one for Bernie to bring up in a debate. And get her on record for what she's going to do.

The Clintons are so brazen it's almost breathtaking.

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Response to Oilwellian (Reply #2)

Fri Feb 26, 2016, 06:36 PM

23. My take exactly.

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Response to Oilwellian (Original post)

Wed Feb 24, 2016, 04:08 PM

3. k&r

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Response to Oilwellian (Original post)

Fri Feb 26, 2016, 05:13 PM

5. Well....WTH?

I missed this.

The crap with her never ends.

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Response to SoapBox (Reply #5)

Fri Feb 26, 2016, 06:41 PM

26. And it never will.

 

She will faithfully do whatever her corporate masters desire.

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Response to SoapBox (Reply #5)

Fri Feb 26, 2016, 06:46 PM

28. Every layer peeled reveals another corrupt layer n/t

 

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Response to Oilwellian (Original post)

Fri Feb 26, 2016, 05:16 PM

6. overwhelming....

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Response to Oilwellian (Original post)

Fri Feb 26, 2016, 05:19 PM

7. Thank you for this

article, it is truly amazing how deep and wide this pile crap is.

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Response to Oilwellian (Original post)

Fri Feb 26, 2016, 05:23 PM

9. Get your gravitational stabilizers ready

 

The spinning for this one is going to get intense.

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Response to Oilwellian (Original post)

Fri Feb 26, 2016, 05:26 PM

10. K&R

 

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Response to Oilwellian (Original post)

Fri Feb 26, 2016, 05:33 PM

11. but. but. but

 

this isn't baggage this is an anchor .

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Response to Oilwellian (Original post)

Fri Feb 26, 2016, 05:41 PM

12. Oh FFS - seriously?

 

Sadly for the Hillary smear folks there is nothing even remotely objectionable here. But bully for your creativity and imagination!

#t=145

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Response to MaggieD (Reply #12)

Fri Feb 26, 2016, 05:42 PM

13. Why charge

and why is this available???

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Response to UglyGreed (Reply #13)

Fri Feb 26, 2016, 05:45 PM

14. Did you watch it?

 

WTF could you possibly find objectionable about this speech? Why charge? Because believe it or not she is a huge draw, people want to see her, and women are allowed to make a living.

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Response to MaggieD (Reply #14)

Fri Feb 26, 2016, 05:49 PM

16. For $260,000??????

Do you think that audience would have rather watched Hillary or been paid $1000 each?

10% of this organization's annual budget on a Hillary "speech"?

Is there nothing you Hillary disciples won't defend?

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Response to BernieforPres2016 (Reply #16)

Fri Feb 26, 2016, 06:00 PM

20. Honestly, I think association members expect good speakers at their gatherings

 

Members of associations don't get paid, they pay for membership in the association.

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Response to MaggieD (Reply #14)

Fri Feb 26, 2016, 05:50 PM

17. No I did not

but why is this speech available and the Goldman Sachs transcripts are under lock and key???? Are we really going to pretend that if those speeches would help Hillary in anyway they would not be all over the internet??? Come on one does not have to be a detective to understand what is going on.........

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Response to UglyGreed (Reply #17)

Fri Feb 26, 2016, 06:24 PM

21. I guess because somebody recorded it and put it on Youtube

 

Duh.

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Response to MaggieD (Reply #21)

Fri Feb 26, 2016, 06:36 PM

22. I guess you are in denial

and avoided my question about the transcripts




which we all know they exist inspector......



and have only one way out


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Response to UglyGreed (Reply #22)

Fri Feb 26, 2016, 06:50 PM

30. About what?

 

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Response to MaggieD (Reply #30)

Fri Feb 26, 2016, 06:51 PM

31. Go read my other reply

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Response to MaggieD (Reply #14)

Fri Feb 26, 2016, 05:55 PM

18. "women are allowed to make a living"

And quite a living if your name is Hillary Clinton. $260,000 for a 30 minute speech is about 50% more than the annual salary of a U.S. Senator.

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Response to BernieforPres2016 (Reply #18)

Fri Feb 26, 2016, 06:38 PM

24. And more then most of us will see in years of work.

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Response to libtodeath (Reply #24)

Fri Feb 26, 2016, 06:58 PM

32. She's undoubtedly more accomplished than you as well

 

Why so jealous of successful people?

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Response to MaggieD (Reply #32)

Fri Feb 26, 2016, 07:00 PM

33. No one is

jealous some people do not like corruption..........

http://www.democraticunderground.com/12511348052

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Response to UglyGreed (Reply #33)

Fri Feb 26, 2016, 07:12 PM

35. Oh good lord

 

Are the intercept (and you) the last ones in the world to know that Stephanie Cutter used to work for Clinton's campaign? Should they put her resume over her face while she is talking for those not informed enough to know that?

SMH. Here's a clue - surrogates often work for campaigns. Dem surrogates support Democrats. Republican surrogates support GOP candidates.

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Response to MaggieD (Reply #35)

Fri Feb 26, 2016, 07:15 PM

36. uhhh

Precision Strategies has been paid at least $120,049 from the Clinton campaign since June of last year.

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Response to UglyGreed (Reply #36)

Fri Feb 26, 2016, 07:23 PM

39. So what? I presume Jeff Weaver gets paid by Bernie, too

 

And I see his mug on the TV all the time. Something wrong with that?

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Response to MaggieD (Reply #39)

Fri Feb 26, 2016, 07:27 PM

40. He does not go on news

programs pretending to be neutral....hence the title of the article

TV Pundits Praise Hillary Clinton On Air, Fail to Disclose Financial Ties to Her Campaign

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Response to UglyGreed (Reply #40)

Fri Feb 26, 2016, 07:28 PM

41. She doesn't pretend to be neutral either

 

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Response to MaggieD (Reply #41)

Fri Feb 26, 2016, 07:31 PM

42. Whatever you say

“Journalism 101 teaches that reporters and TV news hosts must properly identify their sources and analysts,” says Jeff Cohen, an associate professor of journalism at Ithaca College. We reached out to NBC, CBS, CNN, and ABC News, but did not hear back.

Stephanie Cutter, for example, has appeared on multiple networks to discuss Clinton, and is typically introduced as a former campaign official for President Barack Obama. What hasn’t been disclosed in any of her appearances reviewed by The Intercept, however, is that the boutique consulting firm she co-founded, Precision Strategies, has been retained by the Clinton campaign for “digital consulting,” according to Federal Election Commission records. Precision Strategies has been paid at least $120,049 from the Clinton campaign since June of last year.

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Response to MaggieD (Reply #32)

Fri Feb 26, 2016, 07:02 PM

34. Classy.

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Response to libtodeath (Reply #34)

Fri Feb 26, 2016, 07:17 PM

37. Indeed

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Response to UglyGreed (Reply #37)

Fri Feb 26, 2016, 07:22 PM

38. Not surprising in the least though.

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Response to Oilwellian (Original post)

Fri Feb 26, 2016, 05:46 PM

15. Wow, just when I think the Clintons couldn't be any worse

They prove me wrong again.

This kind of racket needs to be legislated out of business alongside the free labor scam called "unpaid internships".

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Response to BernieforPres2016 (Reply #15)

Fri Feb 26, 2016, 05:58 PM

19. The ACA does NOT hire camp counselers - paid or unpaid

 

The SPLC report does not contain a single example of a camping business abusing the J-1 visa program by hiring camp counselors and skirting the visa rules. Nor does it show or even mention a connection to Clinton. The ridiculous smears are just so over the top they now defy any sense of rationality.

THIS is why I can't take any of this crap seriously. Unbelievable. Man, I cannot wait until Bernie is sent home with his tail between his legs. It really can't happen soon enough.

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Response to Oilwellian (Original post)

Fri Feb 26, 2016, 07:34 PM

43. Wow... Now I Know!

 

In my IT work in the Philippines I had heard about this from some Filipinos.

They told me they needed to pay 100,000 pesos (~$2100) to some business in Manila to get into this program.

I thought maybe it was a scam because well frankly it sounded too good to be true.

Now I am seeing it is true, but here is the fine print...

$2.77 per hour.

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