Hillary Clinton: 'We Came Out of the White House Dead Broke'

Monday, 09 Jun 2014 01:24 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Hillary Clinton defended the millions of dollars in speaking fees she and former President Bill Clinton generated after his second term ended in 2001, saying they were "dead broke" after eight years in the White House.

"We came out of the White House not only dead broke, but in debt," Clinton told ABC News' Diane Sawyer in an interview that will air Monday night as part of the kickoff tour for the former first lady's latest memoir, "Hard Choices."

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"We had no money when we got there, and we struggled to, you know, piece together the resources for mortgages, for houses, for Chelsea's education," said Clinton. "You know, it was not easy."

Chelsea, the daughter of Bill and Hillary Clinton, graduated from Stanford University in 2001 and later received graduates degrees from the University of Oxford and Columbia University.

Hillary Clinton alone has earned at least $5 million in speaking fees since leaving the secretary of state position in 2013, Mother Jones reported.

According to his wife's ethics reports filed while she was serving as senator from New York, Bill Clinton earned more than $30 million in speaking fees in the first four years alone after leaving the White House, The New York Times reported in 2007.

"Let me put it this way," Clinton told Sawyer, "I thought making speeches for money was a much better thing than getting connected with any one group or company as so many people who leave public life do."

She told Sawyer that she's given some free speeches as well, but that the time after she and her husband left the White House was challenging financially.

"Bill has worked really hard — and it's been amazing to me — he's worked very hard," she said. "First of all, we had to pay off all our debts, which was, you know, he had to make double the money because of obviously taxes and then pay off the debts and get us houses and take care of family members."

Clinton earns an estimated $200,000 per speech, and her travel fees are also worked into her speaking contracts.

While Clinton says she and her husband were struggling when they left the White House, Mother Jones reported that they weren't in financial pain for very long.

Clinton, in her final days as first lady, nabbed an $8 million advance for her first memoir, "Living History." When she ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008, she and her husband had earned a reported total of $109 million over the previous seven years.

Clinton has made more than 90 speeches and appearances since leaving the State Department to private equity firms, investment banks, galas, trade associations, and to colleges and universities, with many of the appearances being paid speeches.

Some critics say her association with groups that paid her to speak may cause issues in a presidential campaign. The groups include Goldman Sachs, the Carlyle Group, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, the National Association of Realtors, and the U.S. Green Building Council, among others, Mother Jones reported.

"This is a great way for a company to get access to her, to hear what she's thinking, to be remembered if and when she does run for office, and to help her grow that nice little nest egg that she and her husband have been intent on building," Meredith McGehee, policy director at the Campaign Legal Center, told Mother Jones.

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