Hillary Rodham Clinton amassed, together with her husband, some $140 million in total earnings over the last eight years, sought out a book about how to get better at emailing and has seasonal allergies.
Such were the details that came flooding out of campaign headquarters in Brooklyn and State Department headquarters in Washington on Friday, after Clinton operatives decided it was time to shed new light on the personal history and finances of a candidate who is often so guarded. They dumped on reporters seven years of tax returns, updated information about the eye-popping fees the Clintons collected giving speeches, and a detailed write-up from the candidate’s physician about the state of her health.
The disclosures came just as the State Department, under court order, released more than 1,000 government emails Clinton had sent or received through her personal server while secretary of State.
It was a familiar campaign tactic. When there is information to be disclosed that may not put the candidate in the most flattering light, pack as much of it into a single news cycle as possible, preferably on a Friday afternoon when fewer people are paying attention to the news. And throw a few positive nuggets – like a clean bill of health – into the mix.
Although the emails released from Clinton’s days as secretary of State were not particularly revealing – most involved mundane day-to-day business, deliberations over who to hire for what job, and a lot of trying to coordinate the schedules of diplomats and their staff scattered around the globe – their disclosure renewed focus on her controversial email practices. Clinton’s use of a personal email account for government business created fresh headaches for her this week when it was revealed that two government inspectors general have concluded classified information was breached as a result. They referred the matter to the Justice Department for a possible investigation.
The 55,000 government emails Clinton had on the personal account were already being released in monthly batches, per a judge’s order in ongoing Freedom of Information Act litigation. Only a small fraction of the messages have been released to date. One of the more notable messages disclosed Friday involved Clinton requesting her staff obtain for her a copy of the book “SEND: Why People Email So Badly And How To Do It Better.”
The tax returns proved more revealing. The figures within them again put the spotlight on the considerable wealth of the couple, who have positioned themselves as crusaders for middle-income Americans and at various times have expressed public anxiety over a lack of cash flow – most famously when Clinton recalled being “dead broke” upon the conclusion of her husband’s presidency.
Hillary and Bill Clinton paid $43,885,310 in federal taxes and made $14,959,450 in charitable contributions between 2007 and 2014. They also paid $13,625,777 in state and local income taxes. The couple’s effective federal tax rate was 35.7% last year.
The couple generated income through big payouts for relatively short stints of work, most notably delivering speeches. Hillary Clinton earned nearly $9.7 million for 41 speeches in 2013 alone, a year for which the campaign had not previously disclosed all her speaking income. By 2014 she had netted more than $10 million. Her biggest 2013 payout came from the Jewish United Fund in Chicago, which gave her $400,000. Bill Clinton commanded even higher fees, delivering four speeches in 2013 that paid at least $700,000 each. The immense speaking fees were supplemented by millions of dollars more that came to the couple through Bill Clinton’s consulting business and royalties from Hillary Clinton’s books.
Campaign officials framed the tax and income disclosures as a gesture toward transparency. They note wealthy candidates seeking the GOP nomination – Jeb Bush, in particular – have yet to be as forthcoming about their personal financial histories.
In a public letter in which Clinton reveals her tax payments, she calls out specific Republicans for supporting policies that would allow wealthy individuals – like her – to pay less taxes.
“Families like mine that reap rewards from our economy have a responsibility to pay our fair share,” the letter said.
Just before the campaign disclosed the tax documents – and just after the State Department released the latest batch of Clinton email – the candidate released a letter from her physician. It reported that Clinton had fully recovered from the blood clot in her brain, for which she was treated in late 2012. The scare fueled nagging questions about the wisdom of other prominent Democrats stepping aside for a presidential candidate whose health could falter during the campaign.
“She is in excellent physical condition and fit to serve as president of the United States,” said the letter from Clinton’s physician, Lisa Bardack.
It also said a lot more.
The letter revealed that Clinton is being treated for an underactive thyroid and seasonal allergies. It noted her brother had premature heart disease and that Clinton has a healthy daughter and granddaughter. And it pointed to some of the candidate’s personal habits: no smoking, no drugs, some yoga, some weightlifting, some swimming and lots of eating fruits and vegetables.