Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Politifact: Mostly false that Clintons left White House "not only dead broke, but in debt"

The statement

"We came out of the White House not only dead broke, but in debt."

Hillary Clinton, Monday in an interview on ABC

The ruling

The Clintons' time in the White House ended after December 2000, so her 2000 Senate financial disclosure form provides a rough view of the balance between the couple's assets and liabilities. These forms only show amounts in broad ranges — from $15,001 to $50,000 and so forth — but under any set of assumptions, the Clintons were in the red, a problem driven by Bill Clinton's enormous legal bills.

Their highest possible assets totaled about $1.8 million, while their lowest possible debts were nearly $2.3 million. The most optimistic scenario left them in a hole of about $500,000.

But the federal disclosure form does not include homes used for personal use and the Clintons had two. In 1999, they bought a five-bedroom home in Chappaqua, N.Y., for $1.7 million. In December 2000, just as they were leaving the White House, they bought a seven-bedroom house near Embassy Row in Washington, D.C. The price was $2.85 million.

While those homes had mortgages, which would increase the amount of the Clintons' debt, the family also had equity in them. The New York Times reported that the Clintons put $855,000 down on the Washington house. That equity would have covered the low-end debt estimate of about $500,000.

All this begs the question of whether someone who can afford to buy a $2.85 million house is "dead broke." We reached two accounting professors at Ohio State University's Fisher College of Business. Assistant professor Jeffrey Hoopes said it would be a stretch for how the term is commonly understood.

"Almost any president leaving office can expect tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars of future earnings as a result of having been president," Hoopes said.

Professor Brian Mittendorf said a balance sheet of assets and liabilities simply doesn't paint a complete picture.

"While one can claim to be technically broke, creditors wouldn't take it as such as long as future income streams could cover the liabilities," Mittendorf said.

In December 2000, at least one large bank saw the Clintons through that lens. Citibank lent them $1.995 million to buy that house in Washington, D.C. This was a safe loan. By Feb. 5, 2001, Bill Clinton was commanding speaking fees of $125,000 or more. Also in 2001, Simon & Schuster paid Hillary Clinton $2.84 million in royalties.

By 2004, the Clintons had erased their debts and Hillary Clinton was ranked the 10th-wealthiest member of the Senate, with a net worth between $10 million and $50 million.

We rate the claim Mostly False.

Jon Greenberg, Times staff writer

Politifact: Mostly false that Clintons left White House "not only dead broke, but in debt" 06/10/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 10, 2014 11:00pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Coquina Key Neighborhood Association to hold forum for District 6 council candidates

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Coquina Key Neighborhood Association is inviting residents to meet the crowded field of candidates running for St. Petersburg's City Council District 6 at a forum Monday evening.

    International People's Democratic Uhuru Movement-affiliated City Council candidate Eritha "Akile" Cainion pauses between answers during a forum at the Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront earlier this month. The Coquina Key Neighborhood Association plans to hold another forum on Monday evening from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Coquina Key Neighborhood Association Clubhouse, 3850 Pompano Drive SE. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  2. Lake Tarpon bass tournament still going strong after nearly 40 years (w/video)

    Outdoors

    Matt Smith, left, and Gary Muchler, work to bring a large mouth bass into Smith's bass boat with only minutes to spare while fishing off Dolly Bay in Lake Tarpon during the Lake Tarpon Tuesday Night Bass Fishing Tournament on Tuesday (7/18/17). The fish sealed second place for the duo.
  3. Pinellas licensing board asks Sen. Jack Latvala for $500,000 loan

    Local Government

    The troubled Pinellas County agency that regulates contractors wants Sen. Jack Latvala to help it get a $500,000 lifeline from the state to stay afloat.

    State Sen . Jack Latvala, R- Clearwater, is being asked to help the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board get $500,000 from the state so it can stay open beyond February.  [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  4. Snooty the manatee's death prompts outpouring of support, petition to move Confederate monument

    Wildlife

    BRADENTON — The South Florida Museum aquarium remains closed Monday and tributes continue to pour in following the shocking death of Snooty, the beloved manatee who captured the hearts of …

    Four-year-old Katie Blair pays her respects to Snooty at a makeshift memorial in front of the museum on Sunday. Katie and her family has visited the aquarium to see Snooty four times this year. 
Snooty was the world's oldest living manatee in captivity and celebrated his 69th birthday Friday at the aquarium. Aquarium officials described Snooty's death as a tragic accident and is being investigated. [LUIS SANTANA   |   Times]

  5. Clearwater mansion that sold at record price is back on the market for $19.75 million

    Real Estate

    CLEARWATER — Less than four months after it sold for a record $11.18 million, the waterfront Century Oaks estate is back on the market — for $19.75 million.

    The historic Century Oaks estate overlooking Clearwater Harbor, which sold for $11.18 million four months ago, is back on the market.
[Courtesy: Coastal Properties Group
]