Politics

It Cost $50,000 To Fly The Clintons To Iowa Steak Fry

Chuck Ross Investigative Reporter

An annual steak fry held by retiring Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin forked out $50,000 to fly Bill and Hillary Clinton to the state last month to headline the event.

Bloomberg Politics discovered the line-item tucked into the Harkin Steak Fry 2014 committee’s campaign finance disclosures.

According to those records, Harkin’s committee paid $50,099.82 to Executive Fliteways, a private charter flight company based in Ronkonkoma, New York, to fly the former First Couple to Indianola. The only expense greater than the plane ride was the raw materials for the event — the steak, chicken, beans, and beverages.

The cook-off, which was held for its 37th and final year on Sept. 14, generated $315,000, according to the federal disclosure. Including the Clintons’ airfare, expenses totaled $217,000. The leftovers went to Democratic candidates in the state and to Harkin’s personal political action committee, TomPAC.

The power couple’s appearance likely helped more than just Iowa Democrats. Harkin’s cook-off is considered a weigh-station for aspiring Democratic presidential candidates. Vice President Joe Biden was the featured guest at last year’s event. And as a senator, Barack Obama flipped steaks there in 2007.

Obama won that caucus, defeating both John Edwards and the former first lady. Clinton’s appearance last month — at which she gave a speech and hobnobbed with the crowd — was her first since that stinging defeat.

That it cost so much to bring the power couple to Iowa comes as no surprise. Both regularly command six figures to speak at events both in the U.S. and abroad. The former secretary of state earned $225,000 for a 90-minute speech she gave Monday at the UNLV Foundation in Las Vegas. (RELATED: Hillary Clinton Complains About Rising Tuition At $225K University Speech)

The fee for that event included travel expenses, according to Clinton’s contract.

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