Politics

Doubt Cast On Bill Clinton’s Claim That He’s Taken ‘Almost No Capital Gains’

Chuck Ross Investigative Reporter

As is sometimes the case with Bill Clinton, the degree of truthfulness of one of his statements hinges on the definition of a word.

That was true in 1998 when, mired in the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Clinton quibbled over the definition of “is,” and it’s true now with a claim he made in an NBC interview that he’s taken virtually no capital gains on investments since leaving the White House.

“Over the last 15 years, I’ve taken almost no capital gains and I’ve given 10 percent away,” Clinton said in an interview with NBC’s Cynthia McFadden that aired Monday.

But as both The New York Times and Buzzfeed note, Clinton’s capital gains claim depends on what he means by “almost.”

The Clintons have reported more than $370,000 in capital gains, and that’s just between 2000 and 2006, well before Bill Clinton really started raking in the dough on the international speech-making circuit.

According to the Clintons’ tax filings, which have been published by the Center for Public Integrity, the power couple claimed $155,590 in 2006, $27,427 in 2005, $57,313 in 2004 and $136,046 in 2000. They reported small losses in 2001 and 2002.

Most of the capital gain for 2006 came through a trust managed by Citibank. Capital gains for the year 2004 came mostly via the sale of a property in the family’s home state, Arkansas. The bulk of the 2000 capital gain came through the sale of assets in either an S-corporation, partnership, estate or trust. The 2005 gain is not specified.

Both The Times and Buzzfeed leave Clinton with some wiggle room. As The Times notes:

“One possibility is that Mr. Clinton’s definition of ‘almost no capital gains’ differs from that of many Americans. Another is that in the intervening eight years, the Clintons have taken far fewer capital gains, or may have even had capital losses.”

But it also could be that, to Clinton, $370,000 is “almost” nothing. While that characterization might be accurate given that the Clintons’ income was more than $100 million between 2001 and 2008, it would also add fuel to the claim that the couple are out of touch with the average American.

Clinton’s camp did not respond to Buzzfeed or The Times.

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