Get out the siren: Clinton leaks tax returns to Drudge
John Byrne
Published: Saturday April 5, 2008

Print This  Email This

Man that broke Lewinsky scandal now target of Clinton news machine

The man who broke the story that nearly derailed her husband's presidency continues to get first dibs from Sen. Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.

Clinton's tax returns were leaked early to the conservative website The Drudge Report, "who has been extremely hard on Hillary for months as good proof as any since the time of Machiavelli that it's better to be feared than loved," "according to Politico.

Clinton has also leaked her fundraising numbers first to Drudge in the past.

Matt Drudge came to prominence during the Bill Clinton Administration when he leaked a report Newsweek was holding on Monica Lewinsky's sexual relationship with the president.

The Washington Times reported in 2007 that Drudge and the Web have played important strategic roles in the Clinton campaign.

"The New York Democrat's third-quarter [2007] fundraising blowout was leaked to the Drudge Report," the Times said. "She made sure an Iowa newspaper printed her comments that she found Sen. Barack Obama's answer to a foreign-policy question 'irresponsible' and 'naive.' She also uses her "Hillary Hub" campaign creation to break news."

Wrote Wired 's Sarah Lai Stirland in response: "The story's notable for two reasons: This communications strategy is made to sound like President Bush's, for which he has been continuously criticized during his tenure in office; Clinton's camp deliberately played down its third quarter fundraising numbers in comparison to rival camp Barack Obama's in the days prior to their release. The Clinton campaign then leaked its numbers online to show that it had surpassed Obama -- thereby generating headlines, and, presumably, more financial support in the future. (Obama subsequently appealed to his supporter base on the Web to close the gap.)"

The New York Times wrote about Clinton's Drudge 'relationship' after her fundraising numbers were leaked last year.

"Within minutes, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton's fund-raising success was injected via Drudge into the day's political news on the Internet and cable television," the Times' Jim Rutenberg wrote. "It did not halt coverage of Obama's speech or his criticism of her vote to authorize the war in 2002, but along the front lines of the campaign - the hourly, intensely fought effort to capture the news cycle or deny ownership of it to the other side - it was a telling assault."

"Clinton's aides declined to discuss how the Drudge Report got access to her latest fund-raising figures nearly 20 minutes before the official announcement went to supporters," they added. "But it was a prime example of a development that has surprised much of the political world: Clinton is learning to play nice with the Drudge Report and the powerful, elusive and conservative-leaning man behind it."

Drudge wasn't light on Clinton in his headlines Saturday. His top three stories Saturday afternoon as of 1:20 pm ET, were: Clintons' tax details made public...," "All charitable donations in '06 were to Clinton Foundation..." and "$18 million dollars unaccounted for..."

He didn't focus at the top of his page that the Clintons' had given $10 million to charity, or that they paid $33 million in federal taxes during the same period.

RAW STORY's earlier report on the Clintons' $109 million follows.

Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign released her and husband Bill Clinton's tax returns Friday, showing the couple made more than $109 million since leaving the White House in 2001. They donated $10 million to charity and paid nearly $34 million in taxes.

The couple's tax returns are available here.

According to the campaign, Bill Clinton was responsible for the bulk of the couple's post-White House income, both from his books -- $23 million from autobiography My Life and $6.3 million from Giving -- and a lucrative speaking tour, which netted him nearly $52 million.

Hillary Clinton had been facing mounting pressure to release the family's tax returns since last week, when Obama released his. Questions also arose earlier this year when Clinton loaned her campaign $5 million from her and her husband's joint assets.

"The Clintons have now made public thirty years of tax returns, a record matched by few people in public service," Clinton campaign spokesman Jay Carson said in a prepared statement. "None of Hillary Clinton's presidential opponents have revealed anything close to this amount of personal financial information.

"What the Clintons' tax returns show is that they paid more than $33,000,000 in federal taxes and donated more than $10,000,000 to charities over the past eight years," Carson continued. "They paid taxes and made charitable contributions at a higher rate than taxpayers at their income level."

Clinton earned close to $10.5 million from her own memoir Living History and about $190,000 from her 1996 book, It Takes a Village. Earnings from the earlier book were donated to charity.

The Clinton campaign summarized the couple's earnings as follows:


Including, among other items:

Senator Clinton's Senate Salary: $1,051,606
President Clinton's Presidential Pension: $1,217,250
Senator Clinton's Book Income: $10,457,083
President Clinton's Book Income: $29,580,525
President Clinton's Speech Income: $51,855,599

That summary leaves about $18 million unaccounted for, as Politico's Ben Smith notes.

The returns went out at 4 p.m. Friday, and the Drudge Report apparently got early word they were coming.

The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder observes some reasons the release's timing was helpful for Clinton:

Good day to get these out.

(a) Clinton's traveling press corps is exhausted by their travel schedule

(b) Mark Penn's gaffe goes away temporarily

(c) It's a Friday

(d) lots of MLK-related political news

(e) it's well before Pennsylvania, as opposed to just days before Pennsylvania.