Clintons disclose wealth
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s family has amassed enormous wealth this decade, pulling in more than $109 million through books, speaking fees and investments, according to tax returns released Friday by the Clinton campaign.
The returns show that the family’s annual income shot up after her husband left the White House, rising from $358,000 in 2000 to $16 million a year later, when Bill Clinton listed his occupation as “speaking and writing.”
In the years since 2001, the family’s income has never dipped below $7.9 million, and reached as high as $20.4 million last year.
The New York senator had resisted releasing her tax records, initially promising to do so only if she won the Democratic presidential nomination. She relented amid protests that she was withholding details about the family finances that voters needed to make their choice. Her Democratic rival, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, had already made public returns covering 2000 through 2006.
“The Clintons have now made public 30 years of tax returns, a record matched by few people in public service,” Jay Carson, a campaign spokesman, said in a prepared statement. “None of Hillary Clinton’s presidential opponents have revealed anything close to this amount of personal financial information.”
For Clinton, there were few appealing options. In revealing that she and her husband are millionaires many times over, she may trigger a backlash from her political base -- households earning less than $75,000 a year.
In about two weeks she faces a must-win primary in Pennsylvania, where recent census data list the median income as about $44,000. That sum is less than what the Clintons claimed in expenses for “cleaning and maintenance” on their homes.
“We’re heading toward the economic doldrums,” said Democratic strategist Bill Carrick. “It’s a pretty inconvenient time for this to come out.”
Obama’s tax records show a large disparity in wealth between the rivals.
The Obamas had a lucrative 2005, for example, making more than $1.6 million. That year the Clintons hauled in more than $18 million. In 2006, the Clintons earned $16 million to the Obamas’ $991,296.
Presumptive Republican nominee John McCain has said he will release his tax returns later this month.
Both Clinton and Obama have called for rolling back the Bush administration’s tax cuts for the wealthy, including themselves.
For the Clintons, the post-presidential years have seen a change in financial fortune on an epic scale.
When the couple exited the White House in January 2001, they had amassed more than $11 million in legal debts, incurred during investigations into the Whitewater controversy and the former president’s affair with Monica S. Lewinsky.
Through a book deal, paid speeches, business partnerships and investments, Bill Clinton catapulted his family into a rarefied level of personal wealth.
He collected nearly $52 million in income from speeches, and a total of $29.6 million from two books -- “Giving” and his autobiography, “My Life.”
For her part, Hillary Clinton earned more than $10 million from her memoir, “Living History” -- a sum that included an $8-million advance.
Overall, the Clintons paid $33,783,507 in federal taxes from 2000-2007 -- 31% of their adjusted gross income, according to the campaign. They made charitable contributions of more than $10 million.
The pace of their charitable giving picked up last year, when Hillary Clinton began her presidential run.
In a summary of income and contributions expected for 2007, the Clintons are listed as making more than $3 million in charitable donations. This is double the charitable donations the couple made in 2006. The actual 2007 return was not available because the Clintons are asking for an extension to file.
The returns offer the first public peek at how much Bill Clinton has made so far from his partnership with Los Angeles-based billionaire Ron Burkle, a close friend and political backer.
The former president became a senior advisor to Burkle’s investment firm, Yucaipa Cos., in early 2002. Thereafter, federal ethics forms filed annually by Hillary Clinton described his Yucaipa-related income only as “over $1,000.” Neither Burkle nor Bill Clinton has specified exactly what Clinton’s advisory duties entailed.
The tax returns show Clinton has received about $12.6 million for his work for Yucaipa between 2003 and 2006. The Clintons said they will report another $2.75 million in Yucaipa partnership income for 2007, bringing the total to more than $15.3 million.
The newly released tax information also shows that Bill Clinton received $800,000 in consulting fees from InfoUSA Inc., a consumer data marketing company headed by another friend and political supporter, Vinod Gupta. In lawsuits, dissident shareholders have criticized InfoUSA’s payments to Clinton, as well as $900,000 in travel provided to the former first couple, as wasting company assets.
Asked what the former president has done for InfoUSA, a campaign spokesman said he shares “his thoughts on the domestic and global economy, and world affairs.”
The Clinton family investments include one in Quellos Alpha Engine, part of the hedge fund Quellos Capital Management of Seattle.
The New York investment house BlackRock bought Quellos last year. Before the sale, a Senate subcommittee accused Quellos of trading in abusive tax shelters. The firm reportedly also was the subject of an Internal Revenue Service investigation. Quellos denied wrongdoing.
A Clinton spokesman said the Quellos investment had been purchased by a blind trust operated on behalf of the Clintons. The Clintons had no knowledge of how the funds in their blind trust were being invested, the spokesman said.
As of 2006, the Clintons switched from an accountant to a lawyer for tax preparation. This resulted in changes for returns filed in 2004 and 2005. The amended returns show that, in 2004, because of a “clerical error” on the tax preparer’s part, the Clintons originally had failed to report income of $106,000. And in 2005, an extra deduction was found that reduced their income by $144,000.
The returns also show the Clintons have made several loans to family members. A campaign spokesman said the couple charged no interest.
Asked if the loans went to Hillary Clinton’s two brothers, Hugh and Tony Rodham, or to Bill Clinton’s half-brother, Roger Clinton, the spokesman said the loans were “personal” and the Clintons wanted to “respect their family members’ privacy.”
Times staff writers David Willman and Steve Braun contributed to this report.