In dueling disclosures, Hillary Clinton reported that the income she and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, received from speaking fees nosedived, while Donald Trump announced that his income exceeded $557 million.
The disclosures, used by both campaigns to score political points on Tuesday night, hit on central questions about candidates’ finances in the 2016 presidential campaign.
Clinton, the Democratic front-runner, released to reporters an 11-page financial disclosure showing that Bill Clinton received almost $1.7 million in new speaking fees from June through November last year, a number that was down about $23 million, or 93 percent, from the amount that the couple reported earning on her last disclosure, in May 2015. Clinton’s campaign has been dogged by questions about speaking fees she has disclosed previously, particularly from Wall Street banks.
Clinton’s night-time release came only after Trump issued a statement saying he also filed a 104-page financial disclosure — “which I am proud to say is the largest in the history” of the Federal Election Commission, the agency that compiles the reports. Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, declined to release the actual document. The FEC will ultimately make it public, but it has as many as 30 days to review the filing.
Trump said his disclosure will report income of $557 million — though that’s not an annual figure. Under federal rules, the filing is supposed to cover Jan. 1, 2015 through May 16, 2016 — a 16 and-a-half month period. In a disclosure last July, Trump’s campaign put his income at $362 million.
In Tuesday’s statement, the campaign said Trump’s new disclosure shows “a revenue increase of approximately $190 million,” but said the income amount “does not include dividends, interest, capital gains, rents and royalties.”
Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s campaign manager, declined to offer any details, or to release Trump’s actual disclosure form. “It’s not our obligation to release it,” he said. “It’s our obligation to file it.”
Trump, who has interests in real estate, golf resorts and licensing among other things, has campaigned on his business acumen while facing repeated questions about his income, net worth and taxes. Unlike other candidates, he has declined to release his tax returns, saying he will do so after the Internal Revenue Service completes an audit. IRS officials have said there’s no reason taxpayers can’t make their returns public, even during audits.
“Despite Donald Trump’s boasting, submitting his personal financial disclosure form is no breakthrough for transparency,” said Christina Reynolds, a Clinton spokeswoman, in an emailed statement. “The true test for Donald Trump is whether he will adhere to the precedent followed by every presidential candidate in the modern era and make his tax returns available, as Hillary Clinton has done.”
On her 11-page disclosure, Clinton reported earning between $172,508 and $1.2 million in dividends and interest from Jan. 1, 2015 through May 16. She also earned $5 million or more in royalties from her 2014 memoir “Hard Choices” over the period; that’s the same amount she reported on her 2015 disclosure, and the new form may include some overlap. The Clintons also reported receiving between $15,001 and $50,000 in royalties for the book “Living History,” which Hillary Clinton released in 2003.
Clinton’s campaign has grappled with fallout from last year’s report — particularly over more than $25 million in fees she and her husband received for giving speeches. Together, the Clintons have earned more than $126 million in speaking fees since Bill Clinton left the presidency in 2001.
Clinton’s filing this week discloses seven new speeches that Bill Clinton gave to groups including America’s Health Insurance Plans, which represents insurers. The speeches, which Clinton gave from June through November last year, provided him with fees that ranged from $200,000 to $285,000. Clinton’s previous report, which covered Jan. 1, 2014, through May 15, 2015, had disclosed 51 speeches that she gave and 53 that he gave.
Trump’s statement on Tuesday also said his net worth has increased since his July 2015 financial disclosure. “As of this date, Mr. Trump’s net worth is in excess of $10 billion dollars,” the campaign said in a statement.
News reports have questioned the value that Trump places on his assets. Bloomberg News last year estimated his net worth at $2.9 billion. “They don’t know what they’re talking about,” Trump told CNN last July in response to that estimate. When his actual 2016 filing is released, it may not shed much light on the net-worth question. Any asset worth more than $50 million gets counted the same on the forms. Last year, Trump claimed 23 such assets, including aircraft, the Mar-A-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, and a golf course in Scotland.
The Clintons’ net worth, as indicated on the form, is between $11.3 million and $52.7 million — not including their multimillion dollar homes in Washington and New York, any federal government retirement accounts they may have, or personal items such as furniture and artwork. The disclosure form requires reporting within wide ranges of values; the couple’s net worth totals didn’t change from the financial disclosure that Hillary Clinton filed in May 2015.
Trump also touted the fact that he had filed his financial disclosure before Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who is competing with Clinton for the Democratic nomination. Michael Briggs, a spokesman for Sanders, didn’t respond to an e-mail request for comment. Candidates can seek as many as two extensions of 45 days each for filing financial disclosures.
“This is the difference between a businessman and the all talk, no action politicians that have failed the American people for far too long,” Trump said in the statement.
(c) 2016, Bloomberg · Lynnley Browning