True or False?
Bill and Hillary Clinton Are Not Worth $100 Million, as New Ad Claims
A new attack ad from Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s super PAC puts the Clintons’ wealth at $100 million. That’s about twice as high as the most credible estimate.
By Katie Sanders, Jon Greenberg and Linda Qiu, PunditFact staff writers
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump sat out the Sunday news shows, but several advisers went after Democratic rival Hillary Clinton on his behalf.
Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani followed Trump’s lead and criticized Clinton for saying she “may have short-circuited” recently by claiming FBI director James Comey said she was “truthful” about her private email server. (Pants on Fire, by the way.)
“First of all she lied, she didn’t ‘short-circuit,’” Giuliani said on ABC’s This Week. “Maybe ‘short circuit’ is her euphemism for lying.”
Former House speaker and Trump VP finalist Newt Gingrich said Clinton’s week was even worse than Trump’s after her Fox News Sunday interview, despite his controversies with the Muslim Gold Star family and saying he saw video footage of people unloading money from a plane in exchange for Iranian hostages (False—he recanted that claim).
“Her brain apparently had short-circuited while she was talking to you,” Gingrich told Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday. “Well, as George Romney can tell her, using a short circuit as an explanation for why you do something is very dangerous in a presidential campaign. So, I’ll take the week. I think she managed to trump Trump in terms of mistakes.”
Florida Gov. Rick Scott pulled political double duty on NBC’s Meet the Press, assuring viewers that the north Miami neighborhood with confirmed Zika cases is “absolutely” safe before launching into his super PAC’s new attack ad against Clinton.
The ad, from the super PAC Scott chairs, Rebuilding America Now, hits both Hillary and Bill Clinton on their personal finances and is set to run Monday in the battleground states of Florida, North Carolina, and Ohio.
It opens with a clip of Hillary Clinton saying that when she and Bill left the White House, they were “dead broke,” a claim we rated Mostly False. Although the public record shows more liabilities than assets when Clinton left office, the couple was able to offer a cash down payment of $855,000 and secure a $1.995 million mortgage a few weeks later. So not exactly “dead broke.”
But the super PAC also exaggerates. As the logo of the Clinton Foundation appears on the screen, the narrator says, “A foundation was created, and money started to roll. Speeches, connections, and donations. Misogynistic regimes, Wall Street insiders, corrupt dictators. They all had one thing in common: Their check cleared. The Clintons are now worth in excess of $100 million.”
That net worth estimate is almost twice as high as the most credible estimates we could find. So it rates Mostly False.
A spokesperson for the PAC did not respond to our inquiry.
The most current estimate comes from Hillary Clinton’s federal financial disclosure filing, something she had to provide as a presidential candidate. That form states explicitly that the assets of both the candidate and his or her spouse must be included, and they are reported in ranges.
The Clintons reported assets between $11.3 million and as much as $52.7 million. The couple listed no liabilities.
Add in $9 million for the value of the Clintons’ two homes in New York and Washington, and the net worth estimate reaches a high of about $62 million.
The Clintons have done very well. Between multimillion-dollar book contracts and speaking fees of $225,000 or more, they have earned an estimated $230 million in the 15 years since they left the White House.
But income is not wealth. As high as those earnings are, that still doesn’t bring them close to the $100 million mark, much less take them beyond it.
The ad’s claim about the role of the Clinton Foundation is suggestive but unclear. The foundation has grown rapidly, raising more than $2 billion to fight AIDS, reduce hunger and poverty, and rein in climate change. It has received millions from several Middle Eastern kingdoms, mega-wealthy businessmen, and major corporations. But according to the foundation’s tax filings and its website, none of the Clintons are paid by the foundation.
Another topic on the show was the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Clinton had touted the trade deal as secretary of state, promoting it with rosy language during negotiations among a dozen Pacific Rim countries, but she announced her opposition during her campaign.
Todd asked Clinton’s running mate and Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine if he will fight the trade deal in the upcoming lame-duck session of Congress “now that you’ve essentially switched your position” to match Clinton. Kaine said he intends to fight the trade deal, but he’s no flip-flopper.
“I haven’t switched my position,” Kaine said, adding he always said he was going to look at the deal very carefully.
His statement rates Half True.
Kaine is against the deal now, but he had kinder things to say about it before—without taking a firm position.
Kaine was just one of 13 Senate Democrats who voted in June 2015 to give Obama fast-track authority (the bill was later defeated in the House). Kaine said then that he had received “assurances” of changes to the deal in the pipeline, but “I’m not going to vote for TPP when there is no program to retrain workers who are affected by trade.”
That’s roughly what he’s been saying for the past year and a half: He supports giving Obama negotiating authority, but would wait for TPP to be finalized before taking a stance on it.
In recent weeks, he’s also praised the deal without saying he would support it.
“I am having discussions with a lot of groups around Virginia about the treaty itself. I see much to like. I think it’s an upgrade of labor standards, I think it’s an upgrade of environmental standards. I think it’s an upgrade of intellectual property protections,” he told The Intercept on July 21, a day before Clinton announced him as her VP pick.
Kaine then formally came out opposing TPP when he officially joined the ticket.
Read the full fact-checks at PunditFact.com.