Published December 20, 2015
Former President Bill Clinton has received nearly $16 million in taxpayer funds since leaving the White House, covering everything from his pension to personnel to benefits -- and renewing questions over how much taxpayers really should spend on ex-presidents who make millions after leaving office.
A new Politico report and analysis examined the payments since he left office in 2001, and claimed it amounts to more than any other ex-president has received. Meanwhile, Politico points out, Clinton has a personal annual income that beats all the other living former presidents. His $15 million advance -- then a record -- for his 2008 memoir was just a sliver of his earnings. According to reports he's made more than $106 million in speaking fees alone since 2001.
Clinton’s wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, also has earned millions in speaking fees -- and released a memoir, for which she reportedly got a $14 million advance, last year. In the first 16 months after leaving Foggy Bottom in 2012, she made at total of $12 million in personal income, according to Bloomberg.
This is a far cry from the picture of destitution that lawmakers feared might face ex-presidents if they did not pass the Former Presidents Act in 1958. Many former commanders-in-chief were in fact personally wealthy, but some were not. Harry S. Truman, according to a report by the Congressional Research Service, had numerous financial problems after he left office in 1953, which became the impetus for the act. The FSA affords a pension and money for numerous expenses, including for personnel, travel costs, health benefits and office space, for as long as the former presidents live.
From 2001 to 2014 Clinton has received a roughly $200,000 annual pension (all presidents received the same level of pension in 2014). Politico reported that the federal money, though, has also gone toward boosting the salaries of some employees of the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation. And nearly $1 million went toward equipment and communications-related costs, according to Politico.
While Clinton has gotten the most since 2001, ex-President George H.W. Bush is catching up, according to CRS. He received the second-highest amount of benefits -- $14 million since 2001. Meanwhile, George W. Bush, who has received $7 million from the government since 2009, spent marginally more than Clinton on office space in 2014 -- $420,000 for an office in Dallas, Texas, compared with Clinton’s $415,000 digs in Manhattan.
Criticism of the FSA might someday lead to reform of the law. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, has already introduced a bill that would cap the full package of annual benefits at $400,000.