WASHINGTON -- Should the Monica Lewinsky scandal cost President Clinton his job, he won't be starving in his "retirement."
He won't get a federal pension -- no president does -- but he'll get an annual $151,800 allowance whether he serves out his term or resigns. The only way he would lose that allowance is if he were impeached by the House and convicted by the Senate.
When he's 65, President Clinton will receive a small annual pension from the Arkansas Public Employees' Retirement System.
Based on the paltry $36,000 salary Mr. Clinton earned as governor of Arkansas, he should receive between $3,370 and $5,328 annually, according to Peter Sepp, a spokesman for the National Taxpayers Union, an Alexandria, Va.-based taxpayer watchdog group.
(That is based on a benefit formula of 1.85% of final average pay times years of service.)
Unlike the federal monetary allowance, Mr. Clinton would get his state pension even if he were convicted of a crime, according to the Arkansas attorney general's office.
His monetary allowance, meanwhile, is linked to the pay of Cabinet officials, and would rise in tandem with any pay raises they get.
If he were impeached and convicted, President Clinton could lose more than $1 million in annual allowances for staff, security and travel-related expenses, as well as a taxpayer-paid office.
Mr. Clinton's annual allowance also could shrink if his marriage fell apart.
Depending on the state in which the divorce occurred, that allowance could be considered community property, according to Michael McCurley, president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, Dallas. Most divorce settlements take into account the party at fault, the earnings and potential earning power of each party, and the health of each person, Mr. McCurley said.
But the president better hope Hillary Rodham Clinton doesn't divorce him. She could be his ticket to a comfortable life after vacating the Oval Office -- she has been the major breadwinner in the family and has the most money socked away.
The Clintons put all of their assets into blind trusts when he assumed the presidency in 1993.
According to federal financial disclosure statements filed in May, the president's blind trust is worth between $50,000 and $100,000, while Mrs. Clinton's holds more than $1 million. Daughter Chelsea has $50,000 to $100,000 in her trust.
(There are other assets. Mr. Clinton has a Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. policy valued between $15,000 and $50,000. The couple reports joint accounts at NationsBank branches in Little Rock holding between $15,000 and $100,000 each. Mrs. Clinton has a separate checking account at Riggs National Bank in Washington, valued between $1,000 and $15,000, and she has a separate savings accounts of between $15,000 and $50,000 at Mercantile Bank of Central Arkansas.)
Pell Rudman Trust Co., Boston, is manager and trustee of the Clintons' blind trusts, according to the Office of Government Ethics.
Pell Rudman -- owned by United Asset Management Corp. -- took over the money management portion last April, after Essex Investment Management Co.'s resignation.
Edward Rudman, chairman and chief executive officer, would say nothing about the Clinton's money.
While returns on the Clintons' portfolio could not be learned, Essex's returns on other portfolios have been mixed, according to the Pensions & Investments Performance Evaluation Report.
For the year ended March 31, Essex's midcap growth equity managed accounts topped the index, returning 47.7%, while its small-cap growth equity portfolio lagged its index, with 39%. The Russell MidCap growth index returned 42.4% for the year, but the Russell 2000 growth index returned 41.2%. Longer term, both Essex accounts topped the indexes, returning a compound annualized 28.2% and 25.7%, respectively, in the three years ended March 31. The Russell indexes returned 24.9% and 20.4%.
In fixed income, Essex's active broad-market portfolio lagged the benchmark for the one year and nearly matched it for the three years. The portfolio returned 14.9% and an annualized 9.3%, vs. the Salomon Broad Bond index's 12% and 9.2%.
The blind trusts also could be invested partly in private equity. Pell Rudman last year acquired Sovereign Financial Services LLC, Denver, which had $1 billion in private equity assets under management.
One problem Pell Rudman could encounter: Mr. Clinton's liabilities -- including more than $5 million in legal bills -- probably exceed his assets.
It is not yet clear whether the Clinton Legal Expense Trust, set up to raise money for his legal expenses, will be able to accumulate enough to cover them. So far, according to published reports, the trust has about $2 million.
Peter Lavallee, administrator of the Washington-based trust, said the legal defense fund is set up as a Crummey trust, allowing donations of up to $10,000 per year that aren't subject to the gift tax. It's a good thing Republicans haven't acted on the president's budget proposal this year to eliminate such trusts from the tax code.
"If they don't raise enough, they're still personally liable," Mr. Lavallee said.
On the other hand, if more money were raised than was needed to pay the lawyers' bills, Mr. Lavallee said, contributions would be returned on a last-in, first-out basis. But he acknowledged the Clintons are beneficiaries of the trust, and they legally have rights to the money.
The president may have diminished his opportunities for many of the lucrative company board seats that presidents often hold after their terms in office.
Chicago-based executive recruiter Frederick Wackerle suggested that while the president would not be "at the Michael Jordan level" of executive stardom (earning some $40 million a year), Mr. Clinton could still be a strong draw for companies with global and heavily regulatory content, such as those in environmental work or telecommunications.
Board retainers are upward of $50,000 a year, and board compensation increasingly is being supplanted with stock options, Mr. Wackerle noted.
That can add up: Former Reagan administration official Frank Carlucci sits on more than two dozen corporate boards. Can Mr. Clinton expect as much? If not, Mr. Wackerle said, an entrepreneurial ex-president can certainly count on expensive consulting fees, a la Henry Kissinger.
Mrs. Clinton, meanwhile, might need to look out for herself. "She ought to cut him out of her will," said Donna Barwick, an attorney and certified financial planner with Lefkoff Duncan Miller Grimes Miller & Barwick PC in Atlanta.
If they remain married, Ms. Barwick said, Mrs. Clinton could create a qualified terminable interest property trust. That vehicle would allow her to control where her property goes after her death. President Clinton would be the beneficiary of the income during his lifetime, but he would have no control over the principle.
"So, he couldn't leave it to a new wife or Monica or (Gennifer) Flowers or any of them. It wouldn't be available for Kathleen Willey if she came for a loan," Ms. Barwick said.