Indian American friend contributed to Clintons’ $109 mn income

April 5th, 2008 - 12:22 pm ICT by admin  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, April 5 (IANS) Bill and Hillary Clinton earned a combined $109 million between 2000 and 2007, including a $400,000 fee for the former president from a firm owned by their controversial Indian American friend, Vinod Gupta. The consulting income of $400,000 in 2007 from infoUSA, an Omaha, Nebraska, provider of marketing information headed by Vinod Gupta, is but a tiny fraction of more than $51 million brought in by Bill from paid speaking engagements. They also collected more than $30 million from book deals.

The couple paid more than $33 million in taxes and gave more than $10 million to charity, according to their joint tax returns released Friday after the Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton’s rivals made their alleged reluctance to disclose the family’s finances an election issue.

Rival Barack Obama has previously made public his own returns, and Friday’s disclosure made clear the income disparity between the two candidates. Obama and his wife previously reported adjusted gross income of $983,000 in 2006, compared with nearly $16 million for the Clintons that year.

“The Clintons have now made public thirty years of tax returns, a record matched by few people in public service,” the former first lady’s presidential campaign spokesman Jay Carson stated. “None of Hillary Clinton’s presidential opponents have revealed anything close to this amount of personal financial information.”

The Clintons, according to the Wall Street Journal, also appeared to receive at least $12.5 million from Bill Clinton’s relationship with the Yucaipa Cos., the Los Angeles investment firm run by his long time friend, billionaire Ronald Burkle, from 2003 to 2006.

The Clinton campaign said the couple received $2.75 million from “partnership income,” for 2007, but didn’t specify the source.

In recent months, Clinton has been in talks with Yucaipa about ending his financial relationship in anticipation that Hillary Clinton could win the Democratic presidential nomination. It is estimated he could walk away with some $20 million from the relationship, the Journal said.

Clintons’ Indian American friend Gupta was accused last May by some of his shareholders of lavishly spending company money on high-profile guests. According to one report, Gupta paid $146,866 to ferry Bill and Hillary Clinton in his private jet in January 2002 for a family vacation in Acapulco, Mexico.

“During the next four years, infoUSA paid Bill Clinton more than $2 million for consulting services, and spent almost $900,000 to fly him around the world for his presidential foundation work and to fly Hillary Clinton to campaign events,” the New York Times then alleged.

Gupta then defended the expenses as legitimate and business-related, and in turn charged his accusers, two Connecticut-based hedge funds, Dolphin Limited Partnership and Cardinal Capital Management, of trying to wrest control of the company through a smear campaign.

Before Clinton left the White House in 2001 he appointed Gupta to the Board of Trustees of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. He had also nominated Gupta as the US consul general to Bermuda, and the US ambassador to Fiji, both posts the latter declined citing business commitments.

The most significant portion of the couple’s income after they left the White House with an estimated $12 million in legal debts rung up during the Whitewater scandal, campaign fundraising and Monica Lewinsky investigations came from Bill Clinton’s career as a speaker.

In 2005, Clinton averaged almost a speech a day - 352 for the year - though only about 20 percent were for personal income. On one particularly good day in Canada, Clinton made $475,000 for two speeches, more than double his annual salary as president.

Only tax returns from 2000 to 2006 were released. For 2007, the campaign said, the Clintons are seeking an extension of time to file their return because they are waiting to receive information related to partnership income, including investments made by the trustees of their blind trust, which sold most of its assets last year.

However, the campaign estimated the couple paid $5.1 million in federal income taxes for 2007 on total income of $20.4 million, for an effective rate of 25 percent, far lower than previous years.

In 2000, their last full year in the White House, the Clintons earned $357,000. Last year, they earned $20.4 million, largely thanks to income tied to Clinton’s position as a former president. Of the earnings the couple reported for 2007, only $150,000 of it came from Hillary Clinton’s senate salary. About $4.6 million came from book income and $10.1 million from Clinton’s speaking fees.

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