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Ethics panel clears Hillary book deal

The ethics committee ruled Clinton's book advance was a 'usual and customary' deal
The ethics committee ruled Clinton's book advance was a 'usual and customary' deal  

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Senate Ethics Committee has cleared Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-New York, from any alleged ethical violations surrounding her $8 million book deal she signed shortly before being sworn in to the Senate, sources told CNN Wednesday.

"The committee has concluded that the publishing agreement appears to be an arms length business deal which falls within the normal business arrangements of the publisher and its terms appear to be usual and customary in the publishing trade," Victor Baird, the committee's chief counsel, wrote in a letter responding to a complaint about Clinton's book deal.

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The complaint from the Congressional Accountability Project, which wrote the committee and Clinton, calling the book deal a "uniquely lavish advance for an elected official [that] may be, in fact, a way for that corporation to place money into your pockets, perhaps to curry favor with you."

The book deal came from Simon & Schuster, a subsidiary of Viacom, Inc. In the letter clearing Clinton of ethical violations, the ethics committee concluded the former first lady was simply paid the market rate for her book deal.

"The committee also understands that the book was offered at auction, and that fourteen major publishing houses were invited to bid on Senator Clinton's proposed memoirs. Eight publishers elected to bid for the work -- each, it appears, offering similar royalty rate terms," Baird wrote.

"We're very happy about this," said Bob Barnett, Clinton's lawyer who negotiated her book deal.

In a written statement, Barnett added, "Contrary to some news reports, Senator Clinton has not received the entire $8 million advance. As is customary in the publishing trade, she has received one-third of that amount, with additional payments to be made over the course of several years."

Senator Clinton has also submitted to the Ethics Committee documents related to the legal expense trust fund she shares with the trust fund.

Jim Kennedy, the senator's spokesman, said although the Office of Government Ethics that governs the President signed off on the trust fund, they submitted documents because the Senate has different rules. Kennedy said he believes the trust fund is in full compliance with Senate rules.



RELATED STORIES:
Senator-elect Hillary Clinton heads to Capitol Hill
December 5, 2000
Race to publish first lady's biography under way
January 7, 1999

RELATED SITES:
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton: Online Office
Senate Select Committee On Ethics
Congressional Accountability Project

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