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THE NATION

Clintons disclose assets in the eight figures

June 15, 2007|Chuck Neubauer, Walter F. Roche Jr. and Dan Morain | Times Staff Writers

WASHINGTON — Call it Clinton Inc.: Congressional financial disclosure reports released Thursday show that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Bill Clinton have assets valued from $10 million to $50 million, with the former president bringing in speaking fees of more than $10 million in just the last year.

The disclosure forms filed by the New York Democrat detail the couple's remarkable financial transformation since they left the White House in 2001 encumbered by millions of dollars in legal debts.

The reports show that Sen. Clinton is one of the wealthiest members of Congress running for president. She is, however, well behind Republican Mitt Romney, a former venture capitalist and governor of Massachusetts, whose campaign has said he is worth $190 million to $250 million.

Presidential candidates were required to file financial reports with the Federal Election Commission last month, but some, including Romney, Clinton and McCain, received extensions. House and Senate members who are running for president must file separate disclosure reports to the FEC and to Congress.

Thursday's Senate filings showed that almost all of the $24.3 million in assets reported by McCain are held by his wife, Cindy, and their dependent children. In Arizona, Cindy McCain controls an Anheuser-Busch distributorship, said to be among the largest in the nation.

By contrast, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), and his wife, Michelle, reported assets ranging from more than $450,000 to $1.1 million.

Most of the presidential candidates serving in the Senate reported receiving income from books. Obama listed $572,490 in royalties and advances for his books; Clinton reported royalties of $350,000 for one of hers.

Clinton's disclosure form also shows that her husband formed two Delaware investment companies whose assets include interests in Yucaipa Global Partnership Fund and Yucaipa Global Holdings, both controlled by Los Angeles billionaire Ron Burkle, a longtime supporter of the Clintons; and in a British jeweler, Garrard, which was purchased by Burkle's Yucaipa Cos. last year.

According to the report, the former president also held stock options in InfoUSA, an Omaha company that is the subject of ongoing shareholder litigation. The options, which were not exercised and expired two months ago, should have been reported in previous disclosure filings, said a spokesman for Sen. Clinton's campaign.

The options were granted to Bill Clinton by Vinod Gupta, a friend and the founder of InfoUSA, as part of consulting contracts with the company worth $3.3 million. Dissident shareholders of the company, which sells consumer and business databases to marketers, have charged that the consulting contracts and the nearly $900,000 that the company has paid in travel expenses for the Clintons are a waste of corporate assets.

Clinton's report showed her husband setting a new personal record with his speaking fees, receiving an average of $179,560 for each of 57 appearances. A single speech to a London financial forum in September brought the former president $450,000.

He wasn't alone in earning big money from giving speeches: Former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, in his financial disclosure report filed last month, reported earning more than $11 million in speaking fees last year.

Congressional disclosure rules only require members to value their assets and liabilities in dollar ranges, so it is difficult to determine a politician's exact worth. Rules also do not require the valuation of personal residences unless the homes produce income.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) and her husband, Paul, an investor, have assets worth at least $23.7 million and as much as $85 million, her latest disclosure shows. Their most valuable asset is a vineyard in St. Helena that she values between $5,000,001 and $25 million.

The couple have 10 other investments, each worth more than $1 million, including commercial real estate in San Francisco and an interest in a Tiburon restaurant company. Pelosi also reported liabilities of between $7.5 million and $33 million.

California's senators, both Democrats, are also both millionaires.

Dianne Feinstein, one of the wealthiest members of Congress, submitted a 168-page report with a 19-page explanation letter. Her husband, Richard Blum, is a financier whose separate personal holdings total in the millions. She and Blum own an interest in San Francisco's Carlton Hotel valued at between $5,000,001 and $25 million, and a condominium in Hawaii worth $1 million to $5 million.

Barbara Boxer reported earning $737 for appearing as herself in an episode of HBO's "Curb Your Enthusiasm." The senator's chief asset is a blind trust valued between $1 million and $5 million.

Though the number of millionaires in Congress continues to climb, there are several who reveal relatively modest net worth.

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