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Clintons sell off trust to allay conflict risk
Question of the Day
Former President Bill Clinton and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton liquidated the contents of their blind trust upon learning it contained investments of $5 million to $25 million that could pose conflicts of interest.
The blind trust and a bank account place the Clinton couple’s total wealth at between $10 million and $50 million.
The Clintons had to disclose the contents of the blind trust in April under instructions from the Office of Government Ethics and sold the assets in May, according to a disclosure form filed yesterday. The Clintons have had a blind trust continuously since 1993 and had no control over its transactions.
Over time, the Clintons’ blind trust grew significantly and included stock holdings in oil and drug companies, military contractors and Wal-Mart.
The report, also filed with the Federal Election Commission, provides the most detailed look at the Clintons’ holdings as their wealth has expanded since Mr. Clinton left the White House.
The new report also shows that the former president made $16 million in speaking fees between January 2006 and Wednesday. So far this year, Mr. Clinton has given 34 paid speeches for a total of $5.9 million.
The blind trust held stock in pharmaceutical companies, including between $250,000 and $500,000 in Biogen Idec and Johnson & Johnson and between $100,000 and $250,000 in Amgen, Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline. It also invested in General Electric and Raytheon, two leading defense contractors. The trust had a varied portfolio, with investments in numerous other companies, including Exxon Mobil, BP Amoco, Walt Disney and EBay.
The report said all the proceeds of the sales are being placed in a cash account. The massive unloading of stock means the Clintons face “substantial” capital-gains taxes, Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson said.
Though all the blind trust transactions were handled over the years by a trustee without the Clintons’ knowledge, some of the holdings could have been awkward for Mrs. Clinton as she pursues the Democratic presidential nomination.
The blind trust held stock worth between $100,000 and $250,000 in NewsCorp, the parent company of Fox News, which many Democrats have denounced as biased against them. The trust also held stock in Wal-Mart and Wal-Mart de Mexico.
The senator served on the Wal-Mart board from 1986 to 1992, and was close with the Walton family, which created the nation’s largest retailer. But she has recently called on the company to provide better worker benefits and last year her Senate campaign returned $5,000 to Wal-Mart’s political action committee. At the time, the Clinton campaign said the money was returned “because of serious differences with current company practices.”
Last year and this year, Mr. Clinton earned fees between $100,000 and $450,000 speaking to such corporations as IBM, General Motors, and Cisco Systems, finance giants such as Goldman Sachs and Lehman Brothers, and trade groups such as the National Association of Realtors and the Mortgage Bankers Association. He also has been paid to speak to nonprofit or charity groups, including the TJ Martell Foundation, which finances leukemia research, Nelson Mandela’s Children’s Fund and the Boys and Girls Club of Los Angeles.
Both parties recognize the Democrats' scam
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