WASHINGTON - Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton formally wrote off the $13.2 million she lent her presidential campaign, helping ease the way for her Senate confirmation as U.S. secretary of state.
Forgiving the loan takes her personal debt off the books, a step toward shutting down her presidential-campaign committee as she prepares to become the top U.S. diplomat.
"If you're going to go into a position like that, you want to try to clear away whatever you can," said Larry Noble, a former general counsel to the Federal Election Commission.
Clinton, who started lending money to her campaign in January, also wrote off $77,900 in interest on the loan, according to a filing Saturday with the FEC.
She had earlier said she didn't expect to be repaid. The money will now be considered a campaign contribution, which isn't tax-deductible, FEC spokesman Bob Biersack said.
Nor can Clinton deduct the money as a bad debt or as a job-hunting expense because political campaigns don't qualify under the tax code, said Paul Caron, associate dean of the University of Cincinnati law school and editor of TaxProf Blog.
Even after writing off the loan and interest, she reported owing $6.4 million to vendors as of Nov. 30, including $5.4 million to former chief strategist Mark Penn. That's down from $7.5 million at the end of October. She paid off her $200,000 debt to spokesman Howard Wolfson and the $58,000 owed to media consultant Mandy Grunwald.
Clinton spokesman Philippe Reines declined to comment.
A 2002 campaign-finance law bars presidential candidates from raising money after the nominating conventions to pay off personal loans greater than $250,000. Clinton (D., N.Y.) continues to seek donations to pay vendors, however.
The senator and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, released income-tax returns during her presidential campaign that showed they earned $109 million in eight years. Their annual income was $20.4 million in 2007, up from $420,000 in 1999. Almost half their income in those years, $51.9 million, came from the former president's speeches.