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Thursday, May 17, 2018 by Manyi
The Clintons sold the stock as they prepared to disclose their holdings under government ethics rules for presidential candidates. Until getting ready to release the holdings in the blind trust, the Clintons did not know what stocks and other financial assets it contained. But the rules did not require the Clintons to sell the stock, their advisers said.
Their decision to cash out their holdings was a reminder of their history with investments that, fairly or not, came back to haunt them politically, most notably the Whitewater real estate affair that dogged them through Mr. Clinton’s presidency.
In 1993, Mr. Clinton complied with federal ethics rules and created a qualified blind trust to hold and invest the family’s assets. Under the rules, public officials must disclose their assets at the time of the creation of the trust, and then hand off day-to-day management of the trust and its investments to an independent trustee. Officials who set up blind trusts are not aware of, nor do they have influence over, the investments chosen.
According to their 1993 financial disclosure form, the Clintons were far less wealthy than they are today. Their estimated net worth at the time was $633,015 to $1.62 million. Mr. Clinton’s share of the blind trust was valued from $15,001 to $50,000, and Mrs. Clinton’s $500,001 to $1 million.
The Clintons continued with this executive branch blind trust through the end of his presidency in 2001. At that time, Mrs. Clinton became a senator from New York, and the family trust was registered as a Senate blind trust, according to her advisers. The trustee was Pell Rudman while Mr. Clinton was president; it became Citigroup when Mrs. Clinton entered the Senate.
This spring, the federal Office of Government Ethics informed Mrs. Clinton that, as a presidential candidate, she had to dissolve her trust and report all of her investments on public financial disclosure forms.
The Clintons discussed their options with a range of advisers, including one of their lawyers, Cheryl Mills, a former deputy White House counsel to Mr. Clinton and currently a top adviser to the couple.
They ultimately decided that they were better off, with Mrs. Clinton in office and running for the presidency, to liquidate the entire blind trust and not keep the stock or reinvest the money for the duration of her campaign, their advisers said. Senators are not required to have blind trusts.
“Senator Clinton and the president wanted to go above and beyond and avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest, so they chose to liquidate the assets,” said Howard Wolfson, communications director of Mrs. Clinton’s campaign.
The disclosure forms have new details about Mr. Clinton’s investments and advisory role with funds in the Yucaipa Companies, a privately held California equity firm controlled by Ron Burkle, one of Mr. Clinton’s best friends and one of Mrs. Clinton’s top fund-raisers.
Mr. Clinton has assets of $100,001 to $250,000 in one Yucaipa investment, Garrard Worldwide Holdings Inc., a retail jeweler with a flagship store in London. He has an additional $15,001 to $50,000 in Brazilian Renewable Energy Company Ltd., which produces sugar-cane-based ethanol in Brazil.
Mr. Clinton also has $15,001 to $50,000 in Easy Bill Ltd., an India-based company that works on electronic transactions and business services for Indians.
Shortly after the Clinton campaign released the financial information, the campaign of Senator Barack Obama, the Illinois Democrat, circulated to news organizations — on what it demanded be a not-for-attribution-basis — a scathing analysis. It called Mrs. Clinton “Hillary Clinton (D-Punjab)” in its headline. The document referred to the investment in India and Mrs. Clinton’s fund-raising efforts among Indian-Americans. The analysis also highlighted the acceptance by Mr. Clinton of $300,000 in speech fees from Cisco, a company the Obama campaign said has moved American jobs to India.
A copy of the document was obtained by Mrs. Clinton’s campaign, which provided it to The New York Times. The Clinton campaign has long been frustrated by the effort by Mr. Obama to present his campaign as above the kind of attack politics that Mr. Obama and his aides say has led to widespread disillusionment with politics by many Americans.
Asked about the document, Bill Burton, a spokesman for Mr. Obama, said: “We did give reporters a series of comments she made on the record and other things that are publicly available to anyone who has access to the Internet. I don’t see why anyone would take umbrage with that.”
Asked why the Obama campaign had initially insisted that it not be connected to the document, Mr. Burton replied, “I’m going to leave my comment at that.”
Most of the Clintons’ blind trust investments are a broad cross-section of Fortune 500 companies, but also include several corporations that, Clinton advisers say, neither Mr. Clinton nor Mrs. Clinton would have chosen.
The Clintons had investments in several pharmaceutical companies, including Abbott Labs, Amgen, Biogen Idec, Genentech, Genzyme, Novartis, Pfizer and Wyeth. The assets in each company ran from $100,001 to $250,000. The trust also had assets in BP Amoco, $50,001 to $100,000; Chevron, $15,001 to $50,000; and Exxon Mobil, $100,001 to $250,000, as well as common stock in Raytheon and Wal-Mart Stores, $100,001 to $250,000 each.Continue reading the main story