Clintons Earned More Than $109 Million Since 2000

Tax returns released by Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) Friday show that she and former president Bill Clinton have earned more than $109 million since 2000, nearly all of it after they left the White House.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

And I'm Michele Norris.

Today, Senator Hillary Clinton released her tax returns. She was answering long-standing calls from critics and political rivals to make the returns public. They are the joint returns she and former President Bill Clinton filed for the years 2000 through 2006, plus a summary of their income from tax year 2007. Together, they made more than $109 million over that entire period.

NPR White House correspondent Don Gonyea is here to tell us more about those tax returns. Hi, Don.

DON GONYEA: Hi.

NORRIS: Now, these show that the former president and the first lady became very wealthy in the years since they left the White House. What do we make of it?

GONYEA: Well, it's not unlike other presidents who really cashed in after leaving the White House, but just so, look at these numbers. According to their adjusted growth income from 2000, Bill Clinton's last year as president, $357,026.

NORRIS: Okay.

GONYEA: 2006: $15,858…

NORRIS: Quite an increase there.

GONYEA: …422. And last year, we don't have the official returns from last year, but more than $20 million. So…

NORRIS: Now, there's some interesting breakdowns here also in where this income comes from.

GONYEA: Yes. And the bulk of it has come from Bill Clinton's, or the largest chunk of it anyway has come from Bill Clinton's speeches. He made some $50 million delivering speeches around the world. He's a big ticket on the speaker circuit foundations, corporate groups, motivational conventions, those sorts of things. But he has also made close to $30 million from the sale of two books he's written. And she had $10.5 million from the sale of her book, her - the biography that she worked on.

NORRIS: Actually, the his and hers autobiographies.

GONYEA: Exactly. Exactly.

NORRIS: Now, people have been calling for her to release these returns for sometime. Is there any indication that these returns show any embarrassing sources of income?

GONYEA: We're still really looking deep into these pages and pages and pages of documents. But the main news here is just the volume. And it's important to note, though, what is not in here. One of the questions that has come up over the course of this campaign is the amount of money, the millions and millions and millions of dollars that Bill Clinton has raised for his foundation, through his foundation, that a good chunk of it has been funneled to his presidential library.

NORRIS: The Clinton Global Initiative.

GONYEA: It's not itemized. Some lists have leaked out, but we don't know who is giving money, how much. And there can be questions of conflict of interest there, so none of that is in here.

NORRIS: All right. Thank you, Don.

GONYEA: A pleasure.

NORRIS: That's NPR's Don Gonyea.

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Clintons' Income Skyrocketed After White House

Hillary Clinton speaks at a fundraising event in Los Angeles on Thursday.

New York Sen. Hillary Clinton speaks at a fundraising event in Los Angeles on Thursday. Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Hillary Clinton answered longstanding calls from critics and political rivals by releasing her tax returns late Friday.

The New York senator made public the joint returns she and former President Bill Clinton filed for the years 2000 through 2006 — plus a summary of their income for tax year 2007, their most lucrative to date.

The two made more than $20 million between them in the most recent tax year, and a total of more than $109.2 million during the period beginning in 2000.

Most of the income came from the former president's speeches ($51.85 million) and from the sale of his two books ($29.6 million). Hillary Clinton's own book, Living History, has earned her more than $10 million. Proceeds from her earlier book, It Takes a Village were donated to charity.

The rest of the couple's income was from official salaries and from lucrative partnerships in which Bill Clinton participates.

Returns show they paid $33.8 million in taxes and made $10.25 million in charitable contributions from 2000-07.

Hillary Clinton has been under pressure for months from other candidates and from critics who say the Clintons had not been public about their wealth and its sources since they released their last return. In 2000, the last year they were in the White House, their adjusted gross income was $357,026 — nearly all of it from his presidential salary ($400,000). She spent most of that year campaigning for the Senate seat she now holds.

Her rival for the Democratic presidential nod, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, released his returns for the years from 2000 to 2006 a week ago. Both he and Arizona Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, have said they will release their 2007 returns soon.

The issue of the Clintons' tax returns, and related questions regarding the financing of Bill Clinton's presidential library in Little Rock, Ark., has dogged the senator's campaign. Concerns about the library funding were raised because anonymous donors provided millions for the project and might someday expect special favors from the Clintons.

The tax returns disclose no sources of income that had not been previously known. The sources of speech income have been listed for years in Hillary Clinton's annual Senate disclosure forms. But the aggregate amount of their worth had not been as clear. The former president is among the highest-paid speakers in the world and can command as much as seven figures for a single speech.

But even if the returns don't create new controversy, they do pose a potential risk for Hillary Clinton's current campaign. The bulk of her support has come from white voters earning less than $50,000 a year. Blue-collar workers and those without a college education have tended to view Clinton as the candidate more sympathetic to their economic standing. Recent polls show that her lead in Pennsylvania, which holds its primary on April 22, is built substantially on such voters.

The first time a Clinton campaigned for president, in 1992, the couple could empathize directly with the middle class. Bill Clinton had been in public office or teaching law school throughout his own legal career, and the two had relatively few assets. They had not even bought a home. When Bill Clinton made the economy and the plight of working families his focus in 1992, his speeches resonated in a way that might be difficult to replicate today.

In fact, it is the contrast between where the Clintons stood financially before their White House years and where they stand now that may attract the most notice. Other presidents have made millions of dollars after leaving office, often from books and speeches. But the scale of their earnings has been more modest, and nearly all had been highly affluent before running for president.

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