Tim Middleton

Mutual Funds9/4/2007 12:01 AM ET

Hillary Clinton: Midas touch at work

After eight years as first lady and six as a New York senator, this presidential candidate is very rich -- but looking at a big tax bill next year.

By Tim Middleton

Hillary Clinton caused a stir in the early 1990s, when it was revealed that the first lady, in 1978, had turned $1,000 into $100,000 in 10 months by trading cattle futures as the wife of Arkansas' attorney general.

These days, that gain would barely register in her portfolio, which has grown as large as $50 million, according to a campaign-disclosure filing with the Federal Election Commission.

Clintonhas never lost her Midas touch. As much as $25 million of the current total was contained in a blind trust that the Democratic presidential candidate and her husband established in 1993, when Bill Clinton became president. The trust was valued at just $1 million when it was established.

The Clintons' fast-growing wealth is a clear demonstration that it pays to have smart, influential people working hard to make your money grow, an advantage they have had dating to the cattle-trading days.

The vanishing portfolio

The trust was dissolved earlier this year after its holdings were disclosed and immediately drew fire from activists because of numerous holdings in corporations unpopular among left-wing Democrats, including pharmaceutical, oil and defense companies, as well as Wal-Mart Stores (WMT, news, msgs) -- where Hillary Clinton served on the board from 1986 to 1992 -- and Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. (NWS, news, msgs).

A Clinton campaign spokesman said the holdings weren't liquidated because of public pressure. "Senator Clinton and the president wanted to go above and beyond and avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest, so they chose to liquidate the assets," spokesman Howard Wolfson said.

Senators are not required to hold assets in blind trusts, but if they do, their holdings remain private. Presidential candidates, however, must disclose them.

Liquidating the trust's stocks will leave the Clintons with a massive capital-gains tax.

The two largest individual holdings were as much as $1 million each in online retailer Amazon.com (AMZN, news, msgs) and high-tech company Cisco Systems (CSCO, news, msgs). Bill Clinton also reported income of $300,000 from two speaking engagements for Cisco -- one in Monterey, Calif., and the other in Las Vegas.

Among the scores of stocks owned by the Clintons in 2006, the year for which the report was filed, were Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.A, news, msgs), Pfizer (PFE, news, msgs), Boeing (BA, news, msgs) and Genentech (DNA, news, msgs).

Other holdings included Microsoft (MSFT, news, msgs), the publisher of MSN Money; ExxonMobil (XOM, news, msgs); Dow Chemical (DOW, news, msgs); Millennium Pharmaceuticals (MLNM, news, msgs); Johnson & Johnson (JNJ, news, msgs); Home Depot (HD, news, msgs); Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A, news, msgs); and Total (TOT, news, msgs), a French oil giant with huge contracts in Iran.

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The portfolio, managed by Citigroup (C, news, msgs), was broadly diversified, owning international stocks such as Philips Electronics (LPL, news, msgs) of the Netherlands and domestic small caps like Micromuse, a software company later acquired by IBM Corp. (IBM, news, msgs).

The trust held a considerable number of individual bonds, including tax-free debt issued by New York, the state Hillary Clinton represents in the Senate, and taxable bonds from Freddie Mac (FRE, news, msgs), the government-sponsored mortgage lender.

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According to the filing, former President Clinton earned about $10 million last year in speaking fees. Corporations before which he appeared included IBM, Citigroup and General Motors (GM, news, msgs). He was paid $450,000 to appear before a Fortune magazine forum in London a year ago.

In addition to her $165,200 Senate salary, which is not reported in the disclosure, Sen. Clinton received $350,000 in royalties for her autobiography, "Living History."

Continued: A political jab

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