Hillary Clinton’s net worth is coming under scrutiny as questions about her relationship with big banks grow louder, with one analysis comparing her political endeavors to something of a lucrative “family business” that has brought a fortune of nearly $110 million to Bill and Hillary.
The focus on Hillary’s net worth grew this week after her opponent’s revelation that he is among the least wealthy Senators. After much goading from the Clinton camp, on Friday Bernie Sanders released his 2014 tax records showing that he and his wife combined to earn $205,000. That is roughly one-third of what banking giant Goldman Sachs paid Hillary Clinton for three speeches, The Independent noted.
For Sanders, the problems with income inequality have been a major pillar of his campaign. He has pledged to take on big banks, getting big money interests out of politics, and helping out the average working Americans with plans for free college education and universal health care.
But his release of tax records this week is bringing to light another income inequality — the one between himself and Hillary Clinton.
As The Independent noted, Sanders is very wealthy but among the lower end of politicians of his stature.
“With an estimated wealth of around $3m, the average US Senator is worth 10 times as much as Mr Sanders. While his income puts him in the top 5 per cent of US earners, the Vermont senator is one of the poorest 20 per cent of members of the Senate.”
The same could not be said of Hillary Clinton, whose net worth has soared in recent years through her book deals and appearance fees. An analysis from Fortune magazine’s Daniel Gross found that Hillary and her husband made $28 million in 2014 and have a combined net worth of $110 million.
“For them, politics is the family business,” Gross wrote. “There is no distinction between business careers and political careers. Holding and serving in public office provides a platform from which they can monetize experience, connections and prominence. And then they use the wealth gained through, say, speaking engagements and media tours, to lay the groundwork for the next campaign. Electoral office, business, wealth, and public service, all meld together seamlessly.”
While Clinton has amassed some of her fortune from her political positions — making $145,000 as a U.S. Senator and later $186,000 as Secretary of State — her biggest jumps have come from her book deals, Gross found. Clinton received an $8 million advance for her first memoir, Living History, which she wrote while serving as a Senator in New York. Her next book brought in even more, a reported $14 million advance for Hard Choices which covered her work in the Obama administration.
Hillary Clinton’s net worth has also jumped thanks to the speaking circuit, where she made $8.5 million in 2013 for 36 speeches.
These speeches — particularly the ones to some of Wall Street’s biggest banks — have put Hillary Clinton under some intense pressure in recent weeks. There are growing calls for her to release the transcripts of these speeches in an effort of transparency, but Clinton has refused until her opponents have released their own transcripts (Sanders points out that he has none, though the message was more likely aimed at her eventual Republican opponents).
This was also a major point at this week’s Democratic debate in Brooklyn.
“If there’s nothing in those speeches that will change voters’ minds, why not just release the transcripts and put these speeches to bed?” debate moderator Dana Bash said to cheers from the audience.
Hillary Clinton still refused, but the questions about her transcripts — and the scrutiny over her net worth — are not likely to go away despite her efforts to draw attention away from the issues.
[Picture by David Calvert/Getty Images]