Family’s Wealth Draws Attention


By: Wall Street Journal

Clinton Spokesman Says Senator’s Cash Was Tapped for Loan
By BRODY MULLINS and JOHN R. EMSHWILLER

New York Sen. Hillary Clinton’s decision to use $5 million of her own money to finance her presidential campaign casts a new spotlight on the wealth that she and her husband have accumulated since they left the White House seven years ago.

The Clintons were jointly worth between $10 million and $50 million as of last April, the most recent figures publicly available, according to government financial-disclosure forms. Those forms only require candidates to provide a range of the value of their assets, and not a specific figure.

Campaign-finance laws allow a political candidate to spend up to half of funds held with a spouse. That would give Sen. Clinton access to a total of between $5 million and $25 million for her presidential bid, unless the couple’s finances markedly changed during the past nine months.

Clinton campaign spokesman Howard Wolfson suggested the loan the candidate gave her campaign came solely from her earnings, not from her husband’s. In addition to her Senate salary, Sen. Clinton has earned “in excess” of $9 million from her 2003 best-selling book, “Living History.” “She is not presently contemplating a future loan,” he said.

But she does have access to half her husband’s earnings placed in joint financial accounts. Since leaving the presidency, Bill Clinton has made tens of millions of dollars through speaking fees and business deals.

Mr. Clinton is negotiating to sever his high-profile business ties with Los Angeles businessman Ron Burkle, who is also a major fund-raiser for Sen. Clinton. That deal could soon provide an additional $20 million or more to the Clinton family coffers — potentially increasing Sen. Clinton’s personal access to cash by about $10 million in her expensive battle against Illinois Sen. Barack Obama.

The Obama campaign was quick to blur the distinction between his and hers concerning cash. The Illinois senator’s campaign manager, David Plouffe, sent an email to supporters shortly after the loan was disclosed Wednesday with the subject line “Startling news.” “The Clinton campaign just announced that Hillary and Bill Clinton injected $5 million of their personal fortune into her campaign a few days ago,” the message said, including a fund-raising plea to match — and exceed — the figure.

Mr. Obama also used the loan to jab Sen. Clinton about not making public her tax returns — something he has done. In comments to reporters, Mr. Obama said voters deserve to know where candidates get their income. Mr. Wolfson said Sen. Clinton “discloses the source of her income every year,” through her annual Senate financial-disclosure forms, though they are less detailed than income-tax returns.

Sen. Clinton isn’t the only presidential candidate to use personal funds to aid a White House bid. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney spent approximately $40 million during the past year on his failed attempt to win this year’s Republican nomination, which he ended yesterday.

In 2003, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry loaned his campaign $6.4 million by refinancing a home he held in a trust with his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, a billionaire from a previous marriage. Once Mr. Kerry had sealed up his party’s nomination, he repaid the loan with campaign funds.

The exact nature and size of the Clinton family wealth has gotten increased attention in recent weeks, as Mr. Clinton has, as reported, sought to unwind his financial ties to Mr. Burkle. The potential $20 million payout stems from his six-year business relationship with the Yucaipa Cos., which is headed by his longtime friend Mr. Burkle, according to people familiar with the matter.

A major part of those talks involves settling on a final payout number for Mr. Clinton. Mr. Clinton’s relationship with Yucaipa began in early 2002 when he signed on as a senior adviser to the West Hollywood, Calif., firm that operates a number of investment funds. Mr. Clinton has a profit participation in two big Yucaipa domestic investment funds. His potential payday from those two funds went up markedly in the last six months thanks to hundreds of millions of dollars in profits the two funds reaped from the sale of two big supermarket chains, according to people familiar with the matter.

Mr. Clinton is also a partner in a Yucaipa global investment fund that focuses on investing in foreign companies. Mr. Clinton is one of three owners of the general partner of that fund, along with Mr. Burkle, who is the managing partner, and an entity connected to Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai.

Mr. Wolfson declined to discuss the relationship between Mr. Clinton’s businesses and Sen. Clinton’s campaign finances, saying that she didn’t intend to use any more of her family funds. “Unless and until that changes,” he said, such questions “are purely hypothetical.”

Write to Brody Mullins at brody.mullins@wsj.com and John R. Emshwiller at john.emshwiller@wsj.com

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