You are using an outdated browser.
Please upgrade your browser
and improve your visit to our site.
Skip Navigation

Soft-money-on-steroids, Maybe Not So Outlandish

TNR contributor Jacob T. Levy weighs in on the question of whether Bill Clinton could use his outsize speaking fees to partially fund Hillary's campaign, and whether the analogy with John Kerry and Teresa Heinz Kerry holds up: 

There were unusual barriers in the Kerry case, because Teresa's inherited fortune was specifically *not* a joint asset--some was protected in trusts and all was protected by a prenup. Heinz's money was to end up in the hands of Heinz's kids, not be commingled with Kerry family assets.

To jointly purchase a home meant that Teresa agreed that both their names would be on the title, nothing more. John didn't have to contribute anything at all; Teresa just had to decide not to keep that part of her assets behind the firewall of her prenup. Of the money behind that firewall when John declared for president, Teresa could contribute only $2000. (So probably once the campaign had started she couldn't buy a house, put it in both their names, and then let him sell it to self-finance the campaign.)

But, as I read things, that's the exception. In the case of a couple that's been married the whole adult lives of both partners, with no prenup, who file tax returns jointly, there's no reason to think resources aren't pooled. I'd be shocked if there were any limits on the ability of Hillary to draw on Clinton family resources--even if those resources were constantly being added to by Bill's income.

Very interesting. As before, I'd interested to hear from others who are well-informed on this subject... 

--Noam Scheiber