Not long ago, when reporters challenged Bill Clinton earlier this month on the conflicts of interest suggested by his big speaking fees and Hillary Clinton’s duties as Secretary of State, he offered two defenses. First the former President said, “I gotta pay our bills.” At the time, commentators wondered just how an experienced politician could say something so tone-deaf, but the true scope of that pretense of struggle didn’t become apparent until Team Hillary filed FEC-required financial disclosures yesterday. The Clintons have hauled in more than $30 million just in the last 16 months, paid off their mortgage, and more:
Hillary Rodham Clinton and former President Bill Clinton reported Friday that they earned more than $30 million combined in speaking fees and book royalties since January 2014, putting them firmly within the upper echelon of American earners as the former secretary of state seeks the White House again.
Clinton’s presidential campaign reported the income in a personal financial disclosure report filed with the Federal Election Commission on Friday night. The report, required of every candidate for the White House, showed the couple amassed more than $25 million in speaking fees and Hillary Clinton earned more than $5 million from her 2014 memoir, “Hard Choices.”
The earnings put the couple in the top one-tenth of 1 percent of all Americans.
There’s a lot more baloney than just a pretense of struggle coming from the Clintons. Hillary has tried making herself into an Elizabeth Warren-style populist, going so far as to claim that she was Elizabeth Warren before Elizabeth Warren was cool. However, Hillary herself drew big fees from the top corporations in the US, including the kind of companies Warren and her coterie usually deride, Deutsche Bank and Ameriprise Financial among them.
This brings us back to Bill’s second explanation for his haul. “And I also give a lot of it to the foundation every year,” he said, emphasizing his giving spirit. Well, charity begins at home, after all:
The report also lists assets of between $5 million and $25 million in a mutual fund managed by Vanguard that the Clintons set up in the past year. The couple did not earn any capital gains during the period and paid an effective tax rate of more than 30 percent in the 2014 tax year, said a Clinton campaign official who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss the report.
It also shows the Clintons paid off their mortgage. Clinton does not list any liabilities in the latest filing; in 2012 she reported a 30-year mortgage on a personal residence valued at between $1 million and $5 million.
They’ve undoubtedly given some of the money to the Clinton Foundation, but they’ve also managed to give to Clintons Incorporated as well. As much as $25 million of the $30 million they earned went into the Vanguard fund, or as little as $5 million, but it’s probably a safe bet that the amount is halfway between or more. On top of that, they’ve managed to pay off a seven-figure mortgage that the high end estimate valued at $5 million. Throw in the cost of a Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous profile, including expensive vacations and multiple houses, and it’s pretty clear that the Clintons were the main beneficiary of their 0.1-Percenter income.
And … there would be nothing wrong with that, on the face of it. If Bill and Hillary Clinton had earned those speaking fees strictly from public fascination with his presidency, some would still question the rush to cash in on his public service, but mostly as a lament. However, the Clintons didn’t get their cash windfalls because of their past connections to power — they got them from their present and future connections to power, especially with Hillary Clinton in the Senate and State Department for a dozen years, and then preparing her run for the presidency. It’s a sleazy arrangement for personal payoffs and corruption, all from a family who keeps trying to posture as just a bunch of working stiffs.