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Hillary Rodham Clinton arrives to a signing of her book "Hard Choices", Thursday, July 17, 2014, in Ridgewood, N.J. A new poll shows that Clinton would beat Mitt Romney in a presidential race 55-42. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Clinton earns $12M in 16 months
Politics » Some Democrats question how she will appeal to working-class voters.
First Published Jul 21 2014 06:47 pm • Last Updated Jul 21 2014 06:47 pm

Washington • Hillary Clinton has earned at least $12 million in 16 months since leaving the State Department, a windfall at odds with her party’s call to shrink the gap between the rich and the poor.

Clinton’s income since her resignation as secretary of state in February 2013 is derived mostly from her latest memoir, speeches and paid appearances at corporate retreats, according to an analysis of data compiled by Bloomberg.

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At least 12 organizations that previously booked President Bill Clinton - who has been paid almost $106 million in speaking fees alone since he left the White House - also hired his wife. Among them: Goldman Sachs and the National Association of Realtors.

With a prospective 2016 presidential candidacy in her future, she keeps tight control over her events. In one university contract, Clinton retained the right to approve her introducer, program, moderator and the set, and she limited to 50 the number of pictures taken on a rope line.

Her earnings represent a fraction of the Clinton family’s total income and yet were large enough to rank her not only in the top 1 percent of the nation’s earners but in the top one- hundredth of the 1 percent.

"Bill and I have worked really hard and we’ve been successful," she said last week in an appearance on Comedy Central’s "The Daily Show." "We believed we could pretty much make our way up the ladder. Now, I think a lot of young people don’t believe that anymore."

Clinton’s representatives declined requests to comment for this article.

The cottage industry the Clintons have created around their public personae is already drawing criticism similar to the 2012 attacks on Mitt Romney, the co-founder of private equity firm Bain Capital. Democrats accused the wealthy Republican presidential nominee of being out of touch with voters.

Some Democrats also question how Clinton will appeal to working-class voters and serve as the party’s chief crusader against stagnant wages and the gap between rich and poor, given that she has received millions from financial firms and other corporations.

"These issues of income inequality are important to Democratic voters," said Josh Orton, political director for Progressives United, a Democratic super-political action committee. "There’s going to be a bit of cognitive dissonance between that kind of fundraising and campaigning on how to fix inequality."

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The annual U.S. mean wage for all occupations was $46,440 as of May 2013. In the 2012 presidential election, 41 percent of voters nationally had earnings of $50,000 or less. Among those who backed President Barack Obama, 60 percent made that much or less, exit polls show.

Democratic and Republican analysts dubbed as a gaffe Clinton’s assertion in an ABC News interview that her family was "dead broke" when leaving the White House, given its wealth today. Some aren’t sure she learned the right lessons from it.

"She has answered questions about her speaking fees and her family’s money by assuming that the question is about whether she and her husband deserve the money," said Robert Reich, who served as secretary of Labor during the Clinton administration.

"The real question behind the question is: Are you going to be fighting for average working people?" he said. "It’s doubly important for her to show that even though she may take money from Wall Street, she won’t allow Wall Street to dictate what she says or the policies she will advocate."

Clinton called comparisons with Romney a "false equivalency," during an interview last month with PBS. "I’m fully comfortable with who I am, what I stand for and what I’ve always stood for."

In a May speech to the New America Foundation, she said that four out of 10 children born in low-income households stay that way through adulthood.

"The dream of upward mobility that made this country a model for the world feels further and further out of reach and many Americans understandably feel frustrated, even angry," Clinton said.

The Bloomberg News evaluation of Clinton’s earnings is based on income from her speeches and her recent book. Bloomberg relied on interviews with organizations that hired her to speak, news reports and public documents to compile her speaking fees. Her book-advance estimate is derived from federal financial- disclosure reports and interviews with literary agents.

The total is a minimum figure that doesn’t take into account investment income and isn’t adjusted for earnings that were donated to charity. The accounting of Clinton’s income since leaving government service is likely as much as the public will learn about her finances unless she runs and releases tax returns or is elected and files financial-disclosure reports.

The Clintons’ daughter, Chelsea, commands a reported $75,000 a speech, as first reported by the New York Times. She donates all her fees to the family foundation. The Clinton Foundation reported more than $234 million in revenue in 2012, according to public filings with the Internal Revenue Service. The foundation supports 11 projects, including the "Too Small to Fail’ initiative to improve the health of children younger than the age of 6.

Hillary Clinton aides wouldn’t release a full list of her appearances or a precise number for her book advance. Her book agent, Robert Barnett, and spokesman, Nick Merrill, declined to comment on her compensation.

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