Clintons Pay Off Whitewater Legal Debts

The Clintons' long financial hangover from Whitewater (search) and impeachment has finally ended, thanks to millions of dollars in post-White House payments for speaking appearances and book contracts.

More than four years after Bill Clinton (search) left office, financial filings released Tuesday show he and his wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (search), D-N.Y., have paid off the last of their debts from the investigations that spanned both his terms in office.

"They are both pleased that it's been paid," said Jim Kennedy, a spokesman for the former president.

An independent counsel spent more than six years investigating the Clintons business dealings, beginning with their involvement in the Whitewater land deal in the 1980's, and later the president's affair with Monica Lewinsky (search).

By the time the Clintons left the White House, they owed millions of dollars to private lawyers in Washington and New York, and have been paying off the debts since.

As expensive as their legal defense was, the documents show their earning ability far outstrips those costs.

The couple had asked the government to pay some $3.5 million of their costs, but a court granted them only a tiny fraction in payment, about $85,000.

They reported owing $1.7 million to $6.5 million at the end of 2002, and between $500,000 and $1 million to a New York law firm by the end of 2003. A year later, all of those debts have been paid.

The president is not required to report the extent of payments from his best-selling autobiography "My Life," which has sold more than 2 million copies in the United States and was just released in paperback.

Under reporting rules, as a spouse of a senator he is only required to report that he received more than $1,000 in payments for the book, though published reports have said he inked a deal worth $10 million to $12 million with publisher Alfred A. Knopf.

The couple's holdings are now valued in the millions. They reported a joint bank account valued somewhere between $5 million and $25 million, and a blind trust also valued between $5 million and $25 million.

Noticeably absent from the power couple's finances is the millions of dollars in speakers fees that the former president earned in past years.

Clinton earned $875,000 in speaking engagements in 2004. The previous two years, he earned a combined $13.9 million in such fees.

His paid appearances in 2004 included a $250,000 speech in March 2004 for Citigroup in Paris, and a $125,000 speech in December 2004 in New York to Goldman Sachs.

Senator Clinton collected another $2,376,716 in 2004 royalties for her memoirs, "Living History," making her total take from the book near $8.7 million so far.

Clinton's spokesman said the president's busy schedule and two surgeries in 2004 for a heart bypass brought down his speech earnings.

"2004 was an extremely busy year for him, between his foundation work, writing his book, on the book tour, recuperating from heart surgery, and preparing for the library opening. He's more in demand than ever, but most requests have to be turned down," said Kennedy.