For Immediate Release: Wednesday, December 13, 2000
For More Information Contact: Gary Ruskin (202) 296-2787
Congressional Accountability Project Questions Senator-Elect Clinton's Book Deal Plans
Following news reports that publishers' bids for Senator-elect Hillary Rodham Clinton's proposed book have exceeded $7.5 million, with highly unusual terms for upfront payment, the Congressional Accountability Project said that the Senate Select Committee on Ethics should review whether the book deal violates Senate standards of conduct related to outside earned income or gifts, if it includes such a large advance and extraordinary terms.
Today's New York Times reports that "The bidding for Senator-elect Hillary Rodham Clinton's proposed book about her life in the White House exceeded $7.5 million yesterday afternoon, even though she is making the extraordinary request that publishers pay her nearly the entire sum by the end of this year."
Senate ethics rules require that a Senator's book deal must follow "usual and customary contractual terms."
"If today's news reports are true, these are not usual and customary terms for a book deal," said Gary Ruskin, Director of the Congressional Accountability Project. "We urge Senator-elect Clinton to forsake any book advance and take only copyright royalties from any book deal. This would avoid any appearance, similar to the Gingrich book deal, that she may be exploiting her office for personal gain, or accepting a sweetheart deal from a publisher."
Following efforts by then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich to accept a $4.5 million book advance from HarperCollins, the House of Representatives amended its Rules so that House Members "may not receive an advance payment on copyright royalties." The Senate has no such rule.
The Times reported that "The most singular aspect of the bidding for Mrs. Clinton's book is that she is asking for almost all of the advance before even a word of the book has been written....Publishers said that Mrs. Clinton's request for an upfront payment was all the more remarkable because she presented her proposal only in circumspect hourlong meetings, not in a written proposal, and that the book's commercial potential would largely turn on the details of its contents."
"The Senate ethics committee should take jurisdiction over Senator-elect Clinton's book deal because the terms of the contract -- including writing the book -- will be carried out during her tenure in the Senate, and because this may be 'improper conduct which may reflect upon the Senate,'" Ruskin said.
The Congressional Accountability Project opposes corruption in the U.S. Congress. For more information, see the Congressional Accountability Project's web page at <http://www.essential.org/orgs/CAP/CAP.html>.