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Clinton Debts Paid Off, Report Shows

Fees for legal defenses from the White House years are cleared up, says a Senate disclosure. Other lawmakers also file statements.

June 15, 2005|Mary Curtius and Richard Simon | Times Staff Writers

WASHINGTON — Erasing a lingering financial burden, former President Clinton and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) in 2004 paid the last legal debts that arose from investigations of them during their White House years, a financial statement released Tuesday showed.

In her annual Senate financial disclosure statement, Sen. Clinton reported that the couple had paid the legal fees -- which for 2003 they listed as $500,000 to $1 million -- for their defenses in the investigations.

"They are both pleased that it's been paid," said Jim Kennedy, a spokesman for the former president.

Their links to Arkansas real estate transactions in the 1980s that became known as the Whitewater controversy led to a investigations and the eventual impeachment of President Clinton stemming from an extramarital affair. Neither Clinton was charged with a crime directly related to the Whitewater deal, and the Senate acquitted President Clinton in his impeachment case.

In 2001, the Clintons' legal fees were reported to have reached at least $11.3 million. A legal defense fund paid some of that amount, and the federal government paid a small portion.

Since they left the White House in January 2001, both Clintons have earned millions of dollars on memoirs they wrote.

In the new financial statements, many senators reported earnings from advances and royalties on fiction and nonfiction books.

But Sen. Clinton earned the most in 2004 -- about $2.38 million in royalties from her autobiography, "Living History," which was published in 2003. It has sold more than 3 million copies worldwide.

Bill Clinton also received income from his autobiography, "My Life," which was published in 2004, and from lectures, according to Sen. Clinton's financial statement.

Senate rules required Sen. Clinton to report only that her husband earned more than $1,000 last year for his book, but news reports have said he received a $10-million advance.

The former president also earned $875,000 from six speeches last year, down from the nearly $4.4 million he collected on the lecture circuit in 2003 and the $9.5 million he received in 2002, according to Sen. Clinton's past statements.

Kennedy, the spokesman for Bill Clinton, noted that the former president spent much of last year writing his book and recuperating from heart surgery performed in September.

The former president, he said, is "more in demand than ever, but most requests have to be turned down."

The Clintons reported two assets valued from $5 million to $25 million, one in a Citibank account and the other in a blind trust.

The disclosure rules require lawmakers only to report assets and liabilities within broad ranges. They are not required to list their annual salary, which for most senators was $158,100 in 2004 (it was increased to $162,100 on Jan. 1). Nor do they have to report the value of personal residences.

Financial disclosure reports for House members become available today.

As they have in past years, the reports released Tuesday confirmed that the Senate remains largely a club of the wealthy.

At least 46 of the 94 senators who filed the reports listed assets that qualified them as millionaires.

Six senators, including Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), asked for extensions from the Senate Ethics Committee.

Among the wealthiest senators was Democrat Jon Corzine of New Jersey, a former chief executive of Goldman Sachs Group, who listed assets valued from $85 million to $261.5 million.

Sen. Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) was the wealthiest of the Senate's leaders. Frist, a heart surgeon who earns $175,700 in salary for his Senate leadership post, reported more than a dozen blind trusts that he used to manage his family's stock assets. They were reported as worth more than $14 million.

The filings ranged from the voluminous -- Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.) filed 200 pages of assets and Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) filed nearly 70 pages -- to the two-page filing of Sen. John E. Sununu (R-N.H.).

Feinstein's 133-page report last year was among the thickest -- putting her and her investment banker husband's worth at more than $35 million. She is due to file her 2004 report by July 15.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) submitted a brief statement that listed her major asset as a blind trust valued from $1 million to $5 million. She listed no major liabilities.

She also reported a $15,938 advance payment from Chronicle Books of San Francisco for a suspense novel she is writing titled "A Time to Run." The book is about an activist senator battling conservative ideologues in Washington.

The reports listed other offbeat outside earnings for senators.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) reported payments for the production of a made-for-television movie based on his book "Faith of My Fathers" and for his cameo appearance in the film "The Wedding Crashers." He donated the money to charity.

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