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Hillary's Cash Cows And Other Sweet Deals

THE TAX RETURNS RELEASED last week by the White House contain no smoking gun. But according to Marvin A. Chirelstein of Columbia University Law School, they do contain clear evidence that Hillary Clinton made a financial killing in a sweetheart deal in cattle futures. The deal in itself was legal-but Chirelstein says Mrs. Clinton never put up any money of her own. Because it was arranged by a lawyer for Tyson Foods, a major player in Arkansas, it smacks of political favoritism. "It's one of those things somebody gets put into a good thing," Chirelstein said. "It's harmless, but it doesn't look wonderful, does it?"

Chirelstein is one of four outside experts chosen by the White House to brief reporters on the Clintons' 1977, 1978 and 1979 tax returns. The Clintons made $98,977-$26,541 in 1978 and $72,436 in 1979-by trading in commodity futures. The trades were made at the step-by-step direction of James Blair, a Clinton friend and an outside counsel for Tyson Foods. Chirelstein says that the Clintons piggybacked on Blair's brokerage account.

Blair and the Clintons' lawyer, David Kendall, have told The New York Times that Mrs. Clinton had her own brokerage account and that she assumed real financial risk in the deal. Chirelstein says he saw no evidence of hard risk. "There weren't any checks," he says. "This fellow Blair seems to have said, 'You can have a fractional interest in my trading in these cattle futures. If I make money, you get a share. If I lose, you have to take your share of the loss'."

Chirelstein said he knows of no contract that required Mrs. Clinton to repay such a loss, which means her "investment" could be considered by some to be a gift. Republicans are bound to wonder whether Blair. whose business interests were dependent on state government, would ever have demanded that a loss be covered.

Chirelstein also said that James McDougal, chairman of Madison Guaranty Savings and Loan and the Clintons' partner in Whitewater Development Corp., assumed the Clintons' share of Whitewater interest payments three years after they went in business together. As a result. the Clintons essentially paid no part of Whitewater costs from 1981 to 1990. Although documents released by the White House indicate the Clintons paid $7,826 in Whitewater interest and taxes between 1981 and 1990, Chirelstein says these payments covered the costs of a model home built on the Whitewater tract-a house the Clintons sold at a small profit.

The bottom line, in Chirelstein's tally, is that Clinton is still overstating his Whitewater investment. Clinton has revised the figure downward, from $68,880 to $46,636. Chirelstein says the real total is no more than $38,809-and if he's right, the Clintons had two sweetheart deals back to back.

Bill and Hillary Clinton's tax returns for 1977,1978 and 1979 contain some clues about why they have been reluctant to make them available to the public. The returns show that the Clintons' adjusted income rose sharply-from $41,731 to $158,495-during those years, and that much of it came from trading in cattle futures. Interest payments on Whitewater, a deduction, helped reduce their tax bill. Selected details:

1977

Earned income                   $42,106
Bill Clinton, Attorney
General of Arkansas                $25,378

Hillary Clinton, Rose
Law Firm partner                   $14,800

Bill, speech fees                     $700
Hillary, speech fees                  $550

Interest income                    $518
Savings and retirement accounts

Capital gains                      noneTotal deductions                 $6,488
Use of Hillary's car                  $595
Books and magazines                   $135
Interest on Yale student loans        $521
Interest paid on credit cards         $244
Glasses                                $77
Interest paid on furniture             $54

Total adjusted income           $41,731Taxes paid               $8,194 (19.6%)1978Earned income                   $58,683
Bill Clinton, Attorney General     $26,500
Hillary Clinton, Rose Law Firm     $24,250
Hillary, consulting                 $6,312
Bill, speech fees                     $740
Hillary, speech fees                  $350

Interest income                  $1,176Capital gains                   $28,049
Sale of five acres of land          $3,036
Profit in cattle futures
commodity trading aided by
James Blair, a top lawyer
for Tyson Foods.                   $26,541

Total deductions                $20,995
Among many other deductions
was interest on the Clinton's
share of the loan to buy
the land to launch Whitewater
Development Corp.                  $10,131

Total adjusted income           $85,214Taxes paid              $22,627 (26.6%)



1979

Earned income                   $84,059
Hillary Clinton, Rose Law Firm     $38,615
Bill Clinton, Governor of Arkansas $30,100
Hillary, consulting                 $8,823
Hillary, speech fees                $1,000
Hillary Clinton, Univ. of Ark.        $889

Interest income                  $4,652Dividend income                  $1,928Capital gains                   $72,996
One of two cattle-futures accounts 
lost money while the other
performed spectacularly.

Total deductions                $24,606
Bookshelves, sofa, desk
taken as a business expense           $664
Payment, Whitewater interest       $11,752
Payment, James McDougal,
Whitewater partner                    $238

Total adjusted income          $158,495Taxes paid              $59,388 (37.5%)
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