Bill Clinton’s Midas Touch

After reading this, it looks like there might be a lot of interesting things in those Clinton tax returns. Bill has sure made a lot of money while keeping the details secret:

Since leaving office in 2001, Clinton has wiped out millions of dollars in legal bills and become a multimillionaire through a brisk schedule of speechmaking and book-writing, as well as a pair of consulting and investing agreements that have yielded as-yet-undisclosed sums.

Clinton also raised more than $362million for his foundation through 2006 and secured pledges for billions more.

Interest in Clinton’s financial dealings has intensified since Hillary Clinton lent her presidential campaign $5 million in January. She has been asked in nationally televised debates whether she would disclose tax returns or persuade the former president to release information about his charitable pursuits.

But evaluating the transactions is difficult because both Clintons, while complying with legal filing requirements, have somewhat limited disclosure of their finances.

The Obama campaign has issued this statement on Clinton’s tax returns. They just don’t buy the argument that she is too busy:

Senator Clinton has also claimed that she is too “busy” to release her tax returns. Given the fact she is able to loan her campaign $5 million, you would think the Clintons would be able to hire an accountant. The reality is that she wants to keep this information hidden from voters. The people of Wyoming, Mississippi, Pennsylvania and the rest of the country should wonder why.

Newsday notes that Clinton didn’t always believe it was acceptable to keep tax returns secret:

A trip down memory lane:

Eight years ago, when Hillary parachuted into NY to become our Senator, she and Howard Wolfson became completely obsessed with opponent Rick Lazio’s tax returns, which he did not release until the end of August..

They talked about them at every opportunity. In early July, Hillary called it “frankly disturbing.” A guy in an Uncle Sam outfit was dispatched to be a nuisance at various Lazio events in August. Howard himself showed up once to try to rattle Lazio by offering him a copy of some Chappaqua property tax receipt after Lazio said he’d release his state returns as soon as Hillary released hers (which didn’t exist, because she had just moved up here).

This produced a lot of coverage. We’ve copied one of the stories after the jump, if you’re interested. But obviously, what brings it to mind is the current discussions of when, if ever, Clinton and Wolfson will release her tax returns as she runs for president this year. Their attitude has been, basically, when they feel like it.

Pressed again today by the Obama campaign, Wolfson said: “Their tax returns since they left the White House will be made available on or around April 15.”

Maybe a reporter could, like, actually risk getting Wolfson mad by trying to pin him down on whether “on or around April 15” will definitely be before the Pennsylvania primary on April 22, and why a 2001 return from a sitting NY senator can’t be copied by, say, March 15?

Without being too cute here, the question is why Clinton and Wolfson were so obsessed by Lazio’s returns that they were disrupting his events, but they now treat it as an irrelevancy when Hillary’s returns are requested. There’s occasionally the suggestion that different standards apply to a primary. But that makes no sense, especially when you’re already an officeholder. Republicans are entitled to see Hillary’s returns before making their decision, but not Dems?

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9 Comments

  1. 1
    Tito says:

    I gotta admit that her feet shuffling on this is getting a bit out of hand and only makes one wonder what exactly is in those returns.

    Personally, I have never understood the whole issue of candidates needing to release tax returns. I am sure the IRS looks very closely at the returns of anyone even semi-famous, so I would assume it is not a matter of looking for someone cheating on their tax bill.

    In the Clinton’s case, it has more to do with how much they are making, and who might be helping to fund the WJC library – very interesting questions indeed.

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    The question isn’t cheating but who the Clintons are indebted to for their sudden fortune, and what they might do in return for them. Are there pardons or political appointments for sale?

  3. 3
    The Charters Of Dreams says:

    Oh my god! Are you kidding? This is too much!!! Are you FOR a Lack of Financial Privacy?

    The broad reach of the income tax leads to invasions of financial privacy. The IRS can access myriad personal information, such as mortgage records, credit card data, phone records, banking and investment accounts, data on property transactions, and other items . . . and this . . . doesn’t trouble you? In fact, you want to use this information and the fact that they’re materially sucessful to hurt the Clintons?!

    “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

    Ron — why don’t you disclose, on this blog, all the financial information the IRS has collect on you over the years? Give it all up to public scrutiny and discussion, right here, right now, just to make sure, you know, your support for Obama is pure and clean? What’s pure and clean? That’s not for you to decide — that’s for us, the “people” and self proclaimed experts (like me) to decide. I’m quite sure you’d be fully comfortable with this. You have nothing to hide, right? Only someone with something to hide would refuse to do this, right?

    If this is “Liberal Values,” the hell with those values.

  4. 4
    The Charters Of Dreams says:

    well, the real value is an opportunity to smear and discredit by innuendo. Given that Obama was not able to deliver a knock out punch to HRC on Tuesday, I suppose this is the smart way to go now . . .

    . . . man, thanks Ron — you actually got to me to come to HRC’s defense, but at least it’s on “real” principles . . .

  5. 5
    Ron Chusid says:

    Charters of Dreams,

    Yes, transparency in government is a liberal value. Candidates typically do release their tax returns. Clinton made this an important issue when she ran for the Senate and her opponent was unwilling to.

    This has nothing to do with financial privacy for the average person. When you run for an office like president it is expected that you are willing to give up some privacy due to conflict of interest isues.

    This has nothing to do with the Clintons being materially successful in itself. The question is who they owe favors to because of their sudden and considerable material success. This is something voters have a right to know about public officials.

    If I were to run for public office, I would disclose my income tax returns. Obama is running, and he has released his returns.

    Thanks for the opportunity to debunk all the ridiculous arguments why Clinton should not have to release her returns in reply to a single comment. It helps keep the BS level in the comments to a minimum.

  6. 6
    Ron Chusid says:

    There is no smearing or innuendo here. These are legitimate concerns, and the release of tax forms is a normal expectation of political candidates.

    This also has nothing to do with how Obama did on Tuesday. The calls for Clinton to release her income tax returns came well before Tuesday.

  7. 7
    Tito says:

    There is of course no law or regulation stating that HRC needs to release her tax returns. If she were refusing on the basis of the principle of privacy (and she were consistent on the issue which the above amply demonstrates she is not), then it would be defensible.

    But she ain’t and it ain’t

  8. 8
    Mary Smith says:

    Senator Clinton really needs to go on and release her tax returns. She’s beginning to act like President Bush.

  9. 9
    Probus says:

    Not wanting to release her taxes now makes Clinton look as if she has something to hide. It also makes her look like a hypocrite. This issue has everything to do with her candidacy, she needs to come clean on where the 5 million dollars she loaned to her campaign actually came from.

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