Candidates, they're just like us! Unless you count the hundreds of millions of dollars in income from book royalties, speaker's fees, selling off the Miss Universe franchise, and other earnings the two top presidential candidates took home this year.
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump both filed their latest personal financial disclosures (PFDs) this week with the Federal Election Commission (FEC). While those reports don't necessarily give a whole picture of the candidates' financials, they do provide a peep into their private coffers, which for Clinton includes millions raked in from book royalties and speaker's fees, and for Trump consists of "tremendous" wealth, which he now estimates at $10 billion.
Trump was the first to announce that he had filed his PFD with the FEC, releasing a statement on Tuesday boasting of a cash flow totaling more than half a billion acquired since he filed his last statement in July 2015. The statement, however, was not accompanied by the actual filing, which the FEC has up to 30 days to review before releasing to the public.
In his statement Tuesday, Trump claimed $557 million in earnings, adding that the figure "does not include dividends, interest, capital gains, rents and royalties." His campaign said that, "as of this date, Mr. Trump's net worth is in excess of $10 billion dollars."
A closer look at the breakdown of his PFD reveals that Trump earned the bulk of revenues from properties such as his Palm Beach Mar-A-Lago resort ($30 million), his golf resort in Miami ($44 million), and the Trump Skating Rink in Central Park ($13 million). He also snagged at least $50 million from the sale of his Miss Universe franchise.
While the PFD offers a glimpse into Trump's financials, there is no way to verify his full earnings or overall wealth valuation, given that the presumptive Republican nominee continues to rebuff attempts by press and public to get their hands on his tax returns. Last year Trump also boasted a net worth of $10 billion, yet Forbes valued him at closer to $4.5 billion.
Without the returns, it will be difficult to get a clear picture into his financial activity, because of the narrow reporting obligations required in PFDs. In these personal filings, presidential candidates can report valuations in broad disclosure ranges (from $100,001 to $1 million, or from $1 million to $5 million, for example). They also aren't required to divulge details about their personal property or residences, unless those things generate income. Luxury cars, yachts or mansions in the Caribbean, say, could all be exempt.
Clinton made her 20-page PFD public Tuesday night just hours after Trump issued his statement on his personal wealth. The document shows that, among other earnings, she collected $5 million for her memoir Hard Choices in 2015 and $1.5 million in speaking fees before announcing her presidential bid. Her husband, Bill Clinton, also raked in $5 million in paid speeches to banking and other corporate entities.
Among those appearances, the former president made speeches before tech firm Oracle Corporation; the National Association of Manufacturers, a trade lobbying group; the Swiss international bank, UBS Wealth Management Americas; and the investment firm, Apollo Management Holdings, LP. His wife also spoke before the latter two entities.
The Clinton campaign did not skip a beat in using her release to push Trump on his tax returns.
"[Tax returns are] an opportunity for voters to do their research on whether candidates are paying their fair share (and get a little preview of how a candidate deals with economic management)," Clinton's Deputy Communications Director Christina Reynolds wrote in a fundraising email Tuesday. "Among other things, tax returns show us how someone spends their money, whether they're charitable, and who they choose to associate with in business deals."
Last July, Clinton released eight years worth of personal tax returns showing that America's former first family paid close to $44 million in federal taxes since 2007. She had previously released returns for her family dating back to 1977.
But her shot at Trump over transparency has been hampered by her ongoing refusal to release the transcripts of her paid speeches to Goldman Sachs and other investment banks.
Clinton has reaped some $21.6 million for at least 94 corporate and other speaking appearances between 2013 and 2015, according to the Associated Press. At least 82 of those groups, corporations or trade associations, have tried to actively assert their interests in government through lobbying, bidding for contracts, or other methods, the AP reported.
The former secretary of state has repeatedly denied that special interests have ever affected her decisions or actions in any elected position, but her opposition to releasing her speech transcripts continues to provide the Bernie Sanders campaign with ammo in the Democratic nomination race.
Sanders, meanwhile, has requested an extension to file his PFD, and Trump quickly tied the Vermont senator's deferral with a lack of business acumen, calling him another "all talk, no action" politician. (The Sanders campaign has told the FEC that he needs an extension due to his frenetic campaign schedule). Candidates are each allowed two 45-day extensions, if they want to take them.
"Despite the fact that I am allowed extensions, I have again filed my report, which is 104 pages, on time," Trump said in his statement. "Bernie Sanders has requested, on the other hand, an extension for his small report. This is the difference between a businessman and the all talk, no action politicians that have failed the American people for far too long."
If Sanders' tax returns, which he released in April and showed a gross income of $205,271, are any indication, don't expect to see much in his personal financial disclosure report, whenever it is released.
But the main two candidates for president aren't show any signs that they will cease their game of chicken over their tax returns and speech transcripts, respectively.
Follow Liz Fields on Twitter: @lianzifields
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