Former Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill earned more than $15 million during the two years after they left the White House, with the bulk of it coming from lucrative public speaking and book deals, according to new financial disclosures and tax returns released Tuesday.
The disclosures offer a new, more comprehensive look at the money the Bidens amassed since leaving the White House — a sharp uptick from where their finances stood in the final years of the Obama administration and Biden’s time in the Senate, when he referred to himself as “middle-class Joe” and put a working-class life story at the center of his political campaigns.
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The new documents show Joe Biden earned more than $4 million in late 2017 and 2018 from giving more than four dozen speeches, banking up to $235,000 for one appearance. He was paid $540,484 for in role at the University of Pennsylvania. And he owns a corporation, established to handle his post-White House speaking and book deals, now valued at between $1 and $5 million.
Biden was elected to the Senate in 1972, weeks before he turned 30, and he spent the next 44 years on a federal government salary. He filed disclosure forms as vice president showing that he and Jill had $303,000 to $1 million in assets and liabilities between $560,000 and $1.2 million.
But in April 2017, months after leaving the vice presidency, both Bidens signed a multi-book deal with Flatiron Books, for Joe Biden to write two books and Jill Biden to write one. Soon after, the Bidens bought a $2.7 million in Rehoboth Beach, Del. The house has six bedrooms and multiple decks and adjoins a state park, according to The Daily Times. The home in Rehoboth Beach is the second home owned by the Bidens: They purchased their first, in Wilmington, Del., in 1996.
In their post-White House life, the Bidens also began renting a home in tony McLean, Va., a suburb outside Washington.
This newfound wealth could provide ammunition for rivals hoping to bash Biden as an insider who has lost touch with people outside the Beltway, though he is not the only wealthy candidate running for president while vowing to help lower- and middle-class Americans: Other candidates including Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and even Bernie Sanders are millionaires. But Biden in recent years vastly out-earned his top rivals. (Self-funding candidates like former Rep. John Delaney and investor Tom Steyer have fortunes that far surpass other Democrats running for president.)
The Bidens earned $11 million in 2017 and $4.6 million in 2018, a big boost from the $396,000 salary they had earned in 2016.
Speaking fees were another major source of income. Biden disclosed payments for 49 speeches, with fees ranging from $8,040 for a book event at a Miami Art Fair to $235,000 for a book tour “VIP experience” in 2017. Jill Biden disclosed 18 speaking engagements totaling $700,000, with her speeches commanding between $25,000 and $66,000 apiece in fees.
Meanwhile, the University of Pennsylvania paid Biden more than $540,000, according to his disclosure. Biden served at the Annenberg School and School of Arts and Sciences and is listed as a “Benjamin Franklin Presidential Practice Professor,” according to the university. Biden was separately involved in the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, from which he took a leave of absence once he launched his presidential campaign.
The tax returns released by Biden’s presidential campaign show the Bidens paid a federal income tax rate of 33.9 percent in 2017 and 33.4 percent in 2018, for a total income tax of $3.7 million and $1.5 million during those years. They gave away a combined $1.3 million to charity in 2017 and 2018.
The new documents, which include Biden’s mandatory financial disclosure and two new years of tax returns voluntarily released by the Biden campaign, do not show exactly how much the Bidens made from signing book deals, and other details about the Biden’s income may similarly be obscured. That’s because the Bidens established corporations to handle their book and speaking fees and pay personal staff in their post-White House life. In some cases, the forms reported information about the corporations and not the direct sources of money.