How voters may react to the Clintons' $109 million income
Few will begrudge the couple its wealth, experts say, unless business ties raise red flags.
(Page 2 of 2)
On the campaign trail, both Obama and his wife, Michelle, talk about their own modest family backgrounds and how it hasn't been that long since they paid off their student loans.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
But their days of financial struggle are clearly over. When the Obamas released their 2000 to 2006 tax returns last month, they presented a picture of a two-career couple that began the decade comfortably (earning $240,505 in 2000) and can now be called wealthy. In their best year, 2005, their combined income was $1.6 million, including $1.2 million in earnings for Senator Obama's bestselling books. In 2006, the couple made almost $1 million.
Still, the Obamas are not Clinton-level wealthy. And their financial picture is far less complicated than the Clintons‚ especially given the former president's business dealings with fundraisers for both Clintons' campaigns and with donors to the Clinton presidential library in Arkansas. Bill Clinton's best-known business associate, billionaire Ron Burkle, is the founder of the Yucaipa investment firm and a "Hillraiser," the title for those who raise more than $100,000 for Hillary's '08 campaign. Bill has earned at least $12.6 million as an adviser and rainmaker for Yucaipa since 2003.
Yucaipa's dealing with the government of Dubai and with a Chinese media company could present a conflict of interest to Senator Clinton if she becomes president, and Bill Clinton is reportedly set to sever his ties to the company if his wife wins the nomination.
The origins of the Clintons' wealth became a campaign issue when Clinton revealed in February that she had loaned her campaign $5 million, and was reportedly prepared to donate up to $15 million.
"The Clintons have now made public 30 years of tax returns, a record matched by few people in public service," Clinton campaign spokesman Jay Carson said in a statement. "None of Hillary Clinton's presidential opponents have revealed anything close to this amount of personal financial information."
Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, has not released past tax returns. Candidates aren't required to release their tax returns, but the practice has become customary.