Broke? Clinton's accepted $190,027 in gifts, inked $23m in book deals exiting White House

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Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets,ABC,Hillary Clinton,Bill Clinton,2016 Elections,State Department

Hillary Clinton, who sniffed to ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer Monday about being “dead broke” when leaving the White House in 2000, already had a $4 million book advance in her purse and $190,027 worth of gifts collected over eight years--and accepted as she and Bill Clinton handed the keys to George W. Bush.

The Clintons took the motherlode of presents as friends were also pushing to get them thousands of dollars more in “housewarming gifts,” including a Faberge serving spoon for $510 and a Spode vegetable dish for $980.

What was the rush? According to news reports at the time, Clinton, elected to the Senate from New York in 2000, would face a tiny dollar gift limit as a senator effective January 2001.

News reports and the biography “For Love of Politics,” by Sally Bedell Smith, provide the biggest blast at Clinton's flat broke claim by revealing that she had signed an $8 million book contract with Simon & Schuster, and won a staggering $4 million advance check upon signing the contract in December 2000. Bill Clinton also had a book deal worth $15 million.

To fill their two houses, one in Washington and one in New York, the Clintons accepted a truckload of gifts received over eight years from friends, including lamps, china and glass sculptures. Under fire, the couple ended up paying back $86,000, the amount the New York Times said they received in their final year alone.

Among the gifts were $4,920 in china from director Steven Spielberg and wife Kate Capshaw and another $4,790 in china from the Hollywood couple of Mary Steenburgen and Ted Danson.

New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd also revealed an effort by friends to buy items from one of Clinton's favorite jewelry and gift stores, Borsheim's of Omaha. The store and Clinton spokespeople at the time denied that Clinton was “registered” like a bride-to-be.

One gift sparked the last of multiple Clinton White House scandals. Denise Rich, the ex-wife of fugitive financier Marc Rich, gave the Clintons two coffee tables and two chairs valued at $7,375 during their last year in the executive mansion. Clinton pardoned Rich before the gift was revealed to the public, prompting a firestorm of criticism.

One-time advisor Dick Morris also wrote in The Hill that their joint income in 2000 was $359,000. Morris said those numbers are “scarcely in the dead broke category, particularly when you consider that the Clintons had none of the normal expenses that the rest of us do, such as housing, cars, child care, insurance, electricity, landscaping, healthcare -- all covered by the taxpayers. All they had to pay for was dry cleaning, food and college tuition for Chelsea. Most people could make that work.”

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com.