Saturday, March 3, 2018

It's Complicated (or, Things I Think About)

If you're new here, this is a weekly column consisting of letters written to my grandchildren (who exist) and my great-grandchildren (who aren't here yet) -- the Stickies -- to haunt them after they become grups and/or I'm dead.

                         BEWARE THE (INTELECTUAL) DARK WEB

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Irregularly Appearing Imaginary Guest Stars
Marie-Louise -- My beautiful muse (right shoulder) and back scratcher 
Iggy -- My designated Sticky
Dana -- My designated gentlereader (left shoulder)

"I came of age believing that, no matter what happened, I would always be able to support myself."
                                                                                  -William Jefferson Clinton

Dear (eventual) Grandstickies & Great-Grandstickies,

I wonder how the Hilliam's net worth is holding up? said I to me the other day. Prior to the last presidential election their enemies, as you would expect, made much of the fact they had supposedly amassed quite a bit of dough, mostly just for giving speeches, since they moved out of the White House.

Curiously, the fact that many of the groups of people that apparently put up some very fat fees (bankers and Wall Streeters) were groups they've regularly railed against over the years didn't seem to upset most of their supporters. After all, as she apparently will never let us forget, she did win the popular vote.

See, at some point in the midst of the reality show that was the 2016 presidential election, once I finally accepted that it was, indeed, real, I resolved to vote for the Libertarian party candidate — although I had reservations, and I knew he couldn't possibly win — and tuned out both the Hilliam and the Donald.

These two were the best we could do? Yet another reason to be embarrassed I'm a Baby Boomer. But I'm fascinated by people that can't seem to make enough money, so I thought I'd look into it.

Personally, I'd consider selling my soul, well, at least my integrity, for five million. Invested conservatively, that would be enough for me to squeak by on and still slowly grow the principle.

I shoveled some coal into the boiler and fired up Mark's Toy III (my somewhat less than cutting-edge computer) and went a-googling.

Where do I begin?

In an interview in 2014, she famously said that they were dead broke when they left the White House, even after they got their security deposit back. There were even reports that they walked off with $200,000 worth of stuff when they left. I decided to start there.

[Full disclosure: I've occasionally liberated an unused "courtesy" bar of soap or the like from the occasional hotel/motel over the years. Never having actually stayed anyplace (I'm still cautiously optimistic) nice enough to be tempted by those expensive and comfy looking fluffy robes so common in movies, my conscience remains (well, mostly) clear.]

As to the charge the Hilliam walked away from the White House with all the comfy/fluffy bathrobes and quite a bit of other swag the defendant was found not guilty. Mostly. Sort of.

It's complicated.

There are all sorts of media outlets that have investigated the charge. Politifact's report, and conclusions, was typical.

The first family is permitted to accept gifts, but, must report all gifts valued at more than $350 ($250 when the Hilliam moved out). The Hilliam reported that they had legitimately received $190,000 worth of gifts that apparently they had loaded into the U-Haul and took with them.

The Washington Post published their submitted paperwork; criticism ensued.

When the smoke cleared, the Hilliam paid The Gummit $86,000 for gifts that were declared the property of The Gummit. They also returned $48,000 worth of furniture. That's a total of $134,000.

$190,000 reported, $134,000 returned. Hey, everybody makes mistakes. For example, Hillary thought they were broke but they were able to write a check for $86,000 to cover the cost of some cherished mementos from their White House days. Who wouldn't?

You know what? I'll bet Willy was in charge of the checkbook but told her a little white lie because he was worried about the mortgage payments on the two houses they needed to buy (his and hers?) when they could no longer call the White House home.

Chappaqua, New York house -- $1,700,000
Washington, DC house -- $2,850,000

Just imagine what the payments must have been!

Politifact rated the $200,000 theft claim as: Mostly False. They didn't steal $200,000 worth of stuff, they accidentally took $134,000 worth of stuff, and then paid for some of it and returned the rest. However, if you read the Politifact fact check report (warning: you will be forced to watch a commercial) you will discover that...

Your tax dollars at work

Something called The House Committee on Government Reform looked into the matter. In fact, they spent 11 months on it and issued a 317-page report. I'll betcha a nickel they spent more, a lot more, than $200,000 of other peoples money to produce that report.

Politifact points out that the report didn't accuse the Hilliam of criminal behavior. However, there were "shortcomings". Some gifts were apparently and deliberately undervalued. The paper trail occasionally got "twisted". It looks like some of the "donations" were solicited (HOOGE no-no).

But hey, the rules concerning giving stuff to the White House and/or it's current temporary residents are spread out across multiple laws and administered by a half dozen offices/agencies (shocking huh?) Politifact helpfully points out.

And hey, the Hilliam did turn in a list. And they did write that check. And they did return $48,000 worth of furniture.

I know, I know... You're saying to yourself, I wonder what they left off the list? But if we can't trust the Hilliam, two public servants that have devoted their lives to public service; members in good standing of the party of the working man person (well, at least unionized public sector working persons) who can you trust?

OK, so anyway...

[Wait-wait-wait. Ain't this supposed to be a column about the Hilliam's net worth? We're at about the, let's see -- one, two, three... let's call it the 850-word point and...]  

Sorry everybody, Dana's right. One sec', I'll be right back. (Insert soft jazz soundtrack, here).

The Hilliam's net worth is, well, "It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is -William Jefferson Clinton, 42nd president of the United States of America.

OK, as you would expect, it's um, complicated. While I couldn't find an estimate for the couple in question (read into that what you will), there are estimates of their individual net worths, including their daughter, Chelsea who is estimated to be worth...

[What? who cares? What's Chelsea's net worth got to do with...]


[$15,000,000?!? How the hell is Chelsea worth...]

It's complicated. But here's the fun fact that put an end to my research and to my motivation Dana. According to Forbes, as of 2016, the Hilliam had made $240,000,000 since leaving the White House, mostly by talking.

Of course, that's gross income. From what I can tell, after taxes, expenses. and comfy/fluffy robes, their net worth is somewhere in the neighborhood of a $100,000,000 (plus or minus 10,000,000). But then again, that was two years ago. They've continued talking, and have continued to be paid for talking, ever since.

I wonder if I could get them to donate $5,000,000 to the Save the Garrulous Geezer foundation. Don't they run some sort of charity? Excuse me, I've got an email to write. Poppa loves you.

Have an OK day.

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©2017 Mark Mehlmauer   (The Flyoverland Crank)

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