WASHINGTON – Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton liquidated the contents of their blind trust upon learning it contained investments of $5 million to $25 million that could pose conflicts of interest or prove to be embarrassing to her presidential campaign.
The blind trust and a bank account valued in the same range place the Clinton's total wealth at between $10 million and $50 million.
The Clintons opened the blind trust in April under instructions from the Office of Government Ethics and sold the assets in May, according to a disclosure form filed Friday. The Clintons have had a blind trust since former President Clinton was governor of Arkansas in 1983 and had no control over its transactions.
Once they peered inside it, they discovered it included investments in oil and drug companies, military contractors and Wal-Mart, campaign spokesman Phil Singer said.
The report, filed Friday with the Federal Election Commission and the Office of Government Ethics, provides the most detailed look at the Clintons' holdings as their wealth has expanded since the former president left the White House in 2001.
The new report also shows that the former president made $16 million in speaking fees between January 2006 and Wednesday. So far this year, Bill Clinton has given 34 paid speeches for a total of $5.9 million.
The blind trust held stock in pharmaceutical companies, including $250,000-$500,000 in Biogen Idec and Johnson & Johnson and $100,000-$250,000 in Amgen, Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline. It also invested in General Electric and Raytheon, two leading defense contractors. The trust had a varied portfolio, with investments in numerous other companies, including Exxon Mobil, BP Amoco, Walt Disney and eBay.
The report said all the proceeds of the sales are being placed in a cash account. The massive unloading of stock means the Clintons face large capital gains taxes.
Though all the blind trust transactions were handled over the years by a trustee without the Clintons' knowledge, some of the holdings could have been awkward for Hillary Clinton as she pursues the Democratic presidential nomination.
The blind trust held stock worth $100,000-$250,000 in NewsCorp, the parent company of Fox News, which many Democrats have denounced as biased against them. The trust also held stock in Wal-Mart and Wal-Mart de Mexico.
The senator served on the Wal-Mart board from 1986 to 1992, and was close with the Walton family that created the nation's largest retailer. But she has recently called on the company to provide better worker benefits and last year her Senate campaign returned $5,000 to Wal-Mart's political action committee. At the time, Clinton campaign spokeswoman Ann Lewis said the money was returned "because of serious differences with current company practices."
Friday's report comes on the heels of Hillary Clinton's Senate disclosure report, made public Thursday, which only covered activity in 2006 and did not reflect this year's liquidation of the blind trust.
Clinton and other presidential candidates were required to file financial disclosure documents with the Office of Government Ethics by May 15. But Clinton, and Republican candidates Mitt Romney and John McCain asked for 45-day extensions because they all had blind trusts that the ethics office demanded be opened.
"As a presidential candidate, Senator Clinton was required to make her assets public," campaign spokesman Howard Wolfson said. "As a result, she had to dissolve her blind trust. Upon its dissolution, she and the president chose to go above and beyond what was required of them and liquidate their assets in order to avoid even the hint of a conflict of interest."
When it comes to family affluence, the reports show that the New York senator is the wealthiest of all members of Congress seeking the presidency. Among all presidential candidates, however, Republican Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, stands alone with assets of between $190 million and $250 million. Republican Rudy Giuliani and Democrat John Edwards have each reported assets of about $30 million.
Last year and this year, Bill Clinton earned fees from $100,000 to $450,000 speaking to such corporations as IBM, General Motors, and Cisco Systems, finance giants such as Goldman Sachs and Lehman Brothers, and trade groups such as the National Association of Realtors and the Mortgage Bankers Association. He also has been paid to speak to nonprofit or charity groups, including the TJ Martell Foundation, which finances leukemia research, Nelson Mandela's Children's Fund and, last March, to the Boys and Girls Club of Los Angeles.
Jay Carson, the former president's spokesman, said Clinton typically donates millions of dollars in free speeches to charities.