A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Secret Service Paying Clintons’ Mortgage?


Q: Is the Secret Service paying the Clintons’ mortgage?

A: No. And Hillary won’t get a full-salary Senate pension, either.

FULL QUESTION

I cant imagine much of this is true.
—————

FW: If Hillary is elected

I’m sure this one will warm your little taxpayer heart.

If Hillary wins in 2008 and Bill is ‘appointed’ to fill her Senate seat
and either live to retire ‘they’ (together or alone) would get two US
Presidential retirement checks, two US Senate retirement checks, and a
retirement check from the State of Arkansas . About the only thing they
MIGHT NOT get is a Social Security check….but I wouldn’t bet on it….

[EET ] I understand Bill has earned $40,000,000 in the past six years. What a
guy!
AND THE REST OF THE STORY… Hilarious Rotten Clinton , as a New York State Senator, now comes under the ‘Congressional Retirement and
Staffing Plan,’ which means that even if she never gets reelected, she
STILL receives her Congressional salary until she dies. (Would it not be
nice if all Americans were pension eligible after only 4 years?)

If Bill outlives her, he then inherits HER salary until HE dies.
He is already getting his Presidential salary until he dies. If Hillary
outlives Bill, she also gets HIS salary until she dies. Guess who pays
for that?

It’s common knowledge that in order for her to establish NY residency,
they purchased a million dollar-plus house in upscale Chappaqua , New
York . Makes sense!

They are entitled to Secret Service protection for life.
Still makes sense.

Here is where it becomes interesting. Their mortgage payments hover at
around $10,000 per month. BUT, an extra residence ‘had’ to be built
within the acreage to house the Secret Service agents.

The Clintons charge the Federal government $10,000 monthly rent for the
use of that extra residence, which is about equal to their mortgage
payment. This means that we, the taxpayers, are paying the Clinton ‘s
salary, mortgage, transportation, safety and security, as well as the
salaries for their 12 man staff — and, this is all perfectly legal!
As she runs for President, will YOU vote for her? [/EET]

FULL ANSWER

We’ve received a number of these e-mails speculating about how Bill and Hillary Clinton might benefit financially from her being elected president. As is often the case with such vituperative screeds, it rests on false statements.

Secret Service Payments: It claims that "[t]he Clintons charge the Federal government $10,000 monthly rent" for the quarters used by the Secret Service at the couple’s residence in Chappaqua, N.Y. This is false. The Clintons legally would have been entitled to receive $1,100 per month (not $10,000) but refused the money.

Washington Post columnist Lloyd Grove, in his "Reliable Source" feature, got this wrong in 2001, quoting a Secret Service spokesman, but he ran a correction the following day:

Washington Post, Jan. 13, 2001: A Secret Service representative misspoke in the Reliable Source in the Jan. 12 Style section. The Clintons are entitled to collect rent from the agency for space at their Chappaqua, N.Y., home but have declined the payments of about $1,100 a month, said White House press secretary Jake Siewert.

Senate Pension: The e-mail says that if Hillary Clinton leaves the Senate she "receives her Congressional salary until she dies." This is also nonsense. She would get less than 14 percent, and that assumes that she has chosen to pay into the Federal Employees’ Retirement System since taking office.

As we noted back in December, the myth that members of Congress can retire on full salary has been going around the Internet for years, and it’s false. By law, no member of Congress may receive more than 80 percent of their salary as their initial yearly pension. Clinton would receive far less. Should she leave the Senate in January 2009 she would have put in eight years of service (not four as the e-mail says), and under the current formula for House and Senate members she would receive pension credit of 1.7 percent for each of those years. Her pension would thus be 13.6 percent, and not of her final salary but of the average of the highest three years of salary. Furthermore, she would have to wait several months before getting anything as she could not be eligible to receive a Senate pension until her 62nd birthday, which is Oct. 26, 2009.

Senator Bill? The message speculates that if Hillary is elected her husband might be appointed to fill her Senate vacancy. That’s possible. New York’s governor would make the appointment, and the governor is a Democrat. But contrary to what this e-mail insinuates, it would hardly be in the couple’s financial interest for him to accept the job. A senator’s current salary is $169,300 per year, and the former president gets nearly that much for making a single speech. He racked up a total of nearly $40 million in speaking fees in six years. As a senator he could not do that. Senators may not accept any speaking fees or other honoraria, and outside earned income from all sources may not exceed 15 percent of salary. That cap is $25,395.

-Brooks Jackson

Update, March 12: New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer announced today that he will resign effective March 17. He will be replaced by Lt. Gov. David A. Paterson. Both are Democrats.
 

Sources

"Bill Passes Up Secret Service $$." The New York Post, 16 Jan. 2001.

Grove, Lloyd. "The Reliable Source." The Washington Post, 12 Jan. 2001, Corrected 13 Jan. 2001.

Purcell, Patrick J. "Retirement Benefits for Members of Congress." Congressional Research Service, 9 Feb. 2007.

Solomon, John and Matthew Mosk. "For Clinton, New Wealth In Speeches; Fees in 6 Years Total Nearly $40 Million." The Washington Post, 23 Feb. 2007.

Brudnick, Ida A. "Salaries of Members of Congress: A List of Payable Rates and Effective Dates, 1789-2008." Congressional Research Service, 8 Jan. 2008.

U.S. Senate Ethics Committee. "An Overview of the Senate Code of Conduct and Related Laws," March 2007.