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These senators running for president made $7.1 million writing books

Disclosures show extracurricular activities pay off for some candidates

(Composite by Chris Hale/CQ Roll Call)
(Composite by Chris Hale/CQ Roll Call)

Wealth of Candidates: A dive into CQ Roll Call’s Wealth of Congress data to illustrate the finances of some of the Democrats running for president.

Writing a book is a good way for politicians to get their message out to voters and promote their biographies, core values and platforms.

It can also be lucrative. Six Democratic senators running for president earned upward of $7.1 million from 2014 to 2018, a review of financial disclosures filed with the Senate Ethics Committee and the Office of Government Ethics found. Three of them made more from their books than their $174,000 Senate pay over the five years.

Here’s a look at how much each made, and what they wrote.

Elizabeth Warren — $2,818,845

Most of Warren’s income comes from her 2014 memoir, “A Fighting Chance,” and from a follow-up book, “This Fight Is Our Fight,” released in 2017. She’s earned $2.67 million from both books, with the bulk of the money from a hefty $1.15 million advance for “A Fighting Chance” the year it was published. Her most recent payment was $300,000 for “A Fighting Chance” in 2018.

The Massachusetts senator is a former law professor and enjoys a stable payout from a collection of books from her legal scholarship. Warren has received annual payments since 2014 totaling $147,ooo for six books: “Chapter 11: Reorganizing American Businesses,” “Commercial Law Studies,” “Bankruptcy and Article 9,” “The Law of Debtors and Creditors,” “Secured Credit: A Systems Approach” and “Commercial Transactions: A Systems Approach.”

Warren also co-authored “The Two-Income Trap” in 2003 with daughter Amelia Warren Tyagi, a book detailing the struggles of working families hit with flat wages and rising costs. She earned a little more than $500 for the book in 2014 and has received no income for it since.

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Bernie Sanders — $2,141,556

Sanders’ 2016 campaign book, “Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In,” has earned just shy of $2 million since publishing.

Less fruitful was a book detailing his path to the House as an independent, 1997’s “Outsider in the House.” He received no royalties prior to 2016 but has earned nearly $14,000 since the book was rebranded as “Outsider in the White House” for Sanders’ first presidential bid.

His post-2016 book, “Bernie Sanders’ Guide to Political Revolution,” pulled in royalty payments in 2016 and 2017, both worth $63,750. The book follows up on Sanders’ presidential run with a call to action and is geared toward a young adult audience.

He’s also a multimedia star, as the producer of a music album, “We Shall Overcome,” a collection of spoken word and music from Vermont folk musicians highlighting American protest songs. Sanders earned more than $3,000 from the album, stemming from revived interest in it during his 2016 presidential bid.

Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker rake in seven figures from their writing. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker rake in seven figures from their writing. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Cory Booker — $1,050,177

Booker’s “United: Thoughts on Finding Common Ground and Advancing the Common Good” earned a little more than $1 million since its rollout in 2015, well before he announced he was running for president. His biggest royalty payment topped $400,000 in the year it was published. Booker earned another $325,000 for the book in 2016 and 2017, but reported no income from it for 2018. In “United,” Booker tells the stories of the mentors who nurtured his path to public service and his vision for civic discourse.

Kamala Harris — $556,900

The former California attorney general is late to the writing crowd. A book highlighting her platform, “The Truths We Hold,” was published in 2018, the year she received an advance of more than $320,000. Her latest filing, made in an Office of Government Ethics disclosure form, shows that she had earned a sum of around $447,000 on that book through date of filing in May 2019.

She also earned nearly $50,000 for the abridged version of “The Truths We Hold,” which Penguin Random House lists under “Teen & Young Adult Nonfiction.” Harris has found an outlet in writing children’s books to get her message out. Her picture book depicting her childhood role models, “Superheroes are Everywhere,” earned more than $60,000.

Kirsten Gillibrand —$425,000

The New York Democrat published her memoir, “Off the Sidelines — Raise Your Voice, Change the World,” in September 2014 and has thus far reported earnings of $350,000. Gillibrand received an advance for the book in 2014 for $275,000 and a royalty payment of $75,000 the following year. She received no payments after 2015.

Like Harris, Gillibrand has dabbled in children’s books. Hers is “Bold and Brave,” published in 2018, which highlights 10 American female leaders from history. She received advances of $25,000 in 2017 and $50,000 in 2018.


Amy Klobuchar — $102,452

Klobuchar’s “The Senator Next Door: A Memoir From the Heartland” was published in 2015 prior to the Iowa caucuses and earned $75,000. She reported no subsequent payments for the memoir, but she did collect $27,000 as an advance for an upcoming book.

Minnesota’s senior senator also earned a few hundred dollars in 2014 and 2017 from the printed version of her senior thesis at Yale, “Uncovering the Dome.” First written in 1982, the book details a decade-long political debate over the building of the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis.

Correction, June 13, 3:35 p.m. | An earlier version of this story misstated the source of Klobuchar’s $27,000 payment. It came from an advance for an upcoming book.


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