Hillary Clinton used her trademark laugh Thursday to deflect a question about the $800,000 her husband earned in 2005 giving speeches for a Bogota-based group that supports the Colombia free trade agreement — the same trade deal she currently opposes.
Asked by CNN if those earnings represented a conflict of interest given that she has dipped into her family’s pocketbook to pay campaign bills, Clinton threw up her hands and laughed loudly for several seconds.
“How many angels dance on the head of the pin?,” she responded, continuing to giggle. “I have really, uh, nothing to … I mean, how do you answer that?”
The New York senator explained there are different sides to the argument over trade, and re-emphasized her own opposition to the trade deal, assailing the Colombian government’s “outrageous” record of “targeting labor leaders.”
“I am against the Colombia free trade deal,” she said. “It doesn’t matter who talks to me. It doesn’t matter any circumstances. I have been against it. I am against it. I will be against it absent the kind of changes in behavior that I have been calling for from the Colombian government.”
Earlier in the press conference, describing her husband’s advocacy for the trade deal, Clinton said: “Everyone is free to express their opinion.”
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and former President Bill Clinton released tax data Friday showing they earned $109 million over the last eight years, an ascent into the uppermost tier of American taxpayers that seemed unimaginable in 2001, when they left the White House with little money and facing millions in legal bills.
The bulk of their wealth has come from speaking and book-writing, which together account for almost $92 million, including a $15 million advance — larger than previously thought — from Mr. Clinton’s 2004 autobiography, “My Life.” The former president’s vigorous lecture schedule, where his speeches command upwards of $250,000, brought in almost $52 million.
During that time, the Clintons paid $33.8 million in federal taxes and claimed deductions for $10.2 million in charitable contributions. The contributions went to a family foundation run by the Clintons that has given away only about half of the money they put into it, and most of that was last year, after Mrs. Clinton declared her candidacy.
A Texas oilman who’s accused of defrauding the Nigerian government by illegally pumping and exporting 10 million barrels of oil is a major fundraiser for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
Kase Lawal of Houston is at least the fourth person accused or convicted of criminal wrongdoing to help finance Clinton’s political ambitions since 2000 and the second in her quest for the White House. The list also includes Chinese and Pakistani fugitives and a former Miami lawyer who was convicted of defrauding Cuba.
There’s no indication that Clinton’s campaign was aware of Lawal’s legal problems when it accepted his help in raising more than $100,000, but a McClatchy Newspapers investigation in the U.S. and Nigeria suggests that her campaign did little to scrutinize the background of one of its top fundraisers.
Hillary Clinton’s campaign has been in the news several times this election season for being, shall we say, somewhat tardy in paying its bills. New York and Des Moines companies complained to the media. And when a New Hampshire landlord went public with his Clinton debt of $500, other companies cried out. (He eventually got paid his $500 and publicly donated it right away to Barack Obama’s campaign.)
Now, it looks from new Federal Election Commission filings that Clinton’s campaign had $8.7 million in outstanding debt at the end of last month. Ouch! And that included $3,361 owed to Maine South High School in Park Ridge, Ill., for renting the Watson Auditorium and for catering.
On the eve of Super Tuesday on Feb. 5, Clinton staged a big town hall meeting from the Maine South High School auditorium that was broadcast nationally on the Hallmark Channel, allowing supporters across the country to ask questions live. Maybe you saw it. Millions did.
But campaigns move on. And her alma mater is still awaiting its money.
The FEC form lists only a “Dr. Rose” as the school contact. A switchboard operator at Maine South said no one was available to discuss the debt, and that the only Dr. Rose at the school was Dr. Rose Garlasco, who is assistant principal. Voice-mail messages for her and the Clinton campaign have gone unanswered.
The self-professed champion for ‘universal health care’ hasn’t been paying the health care bills for her own employees.
Among the debts reported this month by Hillary Rodham Clinton’s struggling presidential campaign, the $292,000 in unpaid health insurance premiums for her campaign staff stands out.
Clinton, who is being pressured to end her campaign against Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination, has made her plan for universal health care a centerpiece of her agenda.
The campaign provides health insurance to all its employees, their spouses, partners and children — and that wasn’t interrupted by any lag in payments to insurance providers, said Jay Carson, a Clinton campaign spokesman.
He said the campaign this month paid off all outstanding bills to Aetna Healthcare and CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield. Those payments will be reflected on a report the campaign will file this month with the Federal Election Commission, which Carson said will show “zero debt owed to both vendors.”
“Sometimes invoices are not paid immediately because we need additional information for our records, or to verify expenses,” Carson said in a statement e-mailed to Politico. “Sometimes invoices arrive at the very end of the month at the cutoff of the reporting period, which means that we are required to report them as a debt on the current FEC report, even where they are paid in regular course during the next month.”
But the unpaid bills to Aetna were at least two months old, according to FEC filings.
They show the campaign ended last year owing Aetna more than $213,000 for “employee benefits.”
During the first two months of the year, the campaign did not pay down any of that debt. In fact, it accrued another $16,000 in unpaid bills last month, and it finished the month owing Aetna $229,000.
Hillary Clinton spends considerable time on the campaign trail bemoaning unscrupulous lenders who have left millions of Americans scrambling to keep their homes but all the while her campaign manager, Margaret “Maggie” Williams, has sat on the board of one of the nation’s once-largest and now-bankrupt sub-prime mortgage lenders.
Clinton Communications Director Howard Wolfson told FOXNews.com late Sunday that Williams, a longtime Clinton ally, didn’t join Clinton’s Democratic presidential campaign as a volunteer until after Delta Financial Corporation — for which Williams is a director — went bankrupt in December 2007.
That’s more than seven years after Williams joined New York-based Delta Financial in 2000. She became a director one month after a federal settlement was reached with the lender over discriminatory lending practices. More recently, Delta has been accused by consumer advocates of pursuing predatory practices throughout the housing boom and bust.
As of September 2007, Williams owned 12,500 shares of Delta’s common stock, and by 2007 had earned at least $175,000 for her board obligations, according to company filings available in the Securities & Exchange Commission online database.
Intently focused on the nation’s housing crisis in recent appearances, Clinton has been clear that sub-prime mortgage lenders, particularly in poor, working class urban neighborhoods shoulder much of the blame for the credit crunch.
But as it turns out, Clinton’s top aide is on the board of what had been — until its bankruptcy — the ninth-leading sub-prime lender in the nation, handling almost $800 million worth of sub-prime lending in the third quarter of 2007 alone, according to National Mortgage News.