The Clintons waited until Friday to finally release their tax returns — a well-known technique in Washington to try to burn out a story over a weekend to reduce public attention. It will not likely work when the papers show that the Clinton, who always complained of being financially strapped, have acquired almost $110 million since leaving the White House. However, they are not releasing their 2007 taxes — instead asking for an extension with only a summary submitted to the IRS. What is known likely to raise some interesting questions about the sources of income used to fund Hillary Clinton’s campaign, particularly from foreign sources.
Of the $109 million made since 2000, $51 million comes from speech income for Bill Clinton, The records show a nosebleed rise from a joint income of $350,000 in 2000 (their last year in the White House) to $16 million in 2001. Eventually, the haul became $20 million a year.
Virtually all of the $10 million in charity from the Clinton reportedly went to their own presidential library. The New York Times notes:
Mr. Clinton last year earned $6.3 million from “Giving,” a book on philanthropy, and reported giving $1 million of that to charity. In the book, Mr. Clinton espouses his own formula for charitable donations, recommending that people give away 5 percent of their income to charitable causes. “If giving by the wealthiest Americans even approached these levels,” he wrote, “I’m convinced it would spark an enormous outpouring of contributions from Americans of more modest means.”
The pace of the Clintons’ own charitable giving, which peaked last year at $3 million, has not always kept up with their income, and by at least one measure, has sometimes fallen short of the spirit of the 5 percent goal, which is to get money into the hands of charities that do good works.
However, the Clintons staff insist that the Clinton in the last year have donated to other charities beyond their own foundation.
Candidates may not use foreign funds for campaigns. However, it is possible for Bill Clinton to raise millions from foreign sources and then loan those funds to the campaign. It also raises the troublesome image of a spouse who can collect massive amounts of money from people who want influence with or access to his wife. It would be strictly improper for Hillary to accept $100,000 checks from various businesses or lobbyists. However, her husband can openly collect such money and she can then use it as part of their joint account.
The filing of the extension allowed the Clinton not to offer details on some of the more controversial financial connections. This includes Bil Clinton’s partnership with Ronald W. Burkle, the billionaire investor and supermarket magnate, whose foreign connections with Dubai and China have raised concerns.
Mr. Clinton had previously not disclosed what he earned from that partnership, but the tax returns show he collected at least $12.6 million since 2002, and possibly as much as $15.3 million, from his work as an adviser and rainmaker for Mr. Burkle’s Yucaipa Companies. The lack of clarity is because the Clintons released only a summary of their 2007 income, which lists $2.7 million in partnership income but does not identify sources. Based on previous years’ returns, it is likely that income came from Yucaipa.
Notably, Clinton staffers have acknowledged that this connection is problematic and “aid that Mr. Clinton has made arrangements to dissolve his Yucaipa partnership if his wife wins the nomination, to avoid possible ethical conflicts.”
The $15.4 million that Clinton received from Burkle’s Yucaipa Cos. investment firm since 2003 represented 20 percent of the $75 that he earned during that period. “That may raise new questions about what services he performed for Los Angeles-based Yucaipa, whose investors include the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid al- Maktoum.” Click here
The other consulting arrangement Mr. Clinton has had was with InfoUSA, a consumer database company run by a friend, Vinod Gupta, who gave $3.3 million in consulting contracts to Mr. Clinton beginning in 2003, according to court records related to a shareholder lawsuit against Mr. Gupta. The shareholders accused Mr. Gupta of improperly spending company money on the consulting agreements and on private jet travel for the Clintons.
It is not clear from the tax returns exactly how much Mr. Clinton earned from InfoUSA each year, but a summary of the Clintons’ income from 2007 released by Mrs. Clinton’s campaign said Mr. Clinton was paid $400,000 by InfoUSA that year.