The next time Vinod Gupta sends a gift to the Clintons, he might want to put his return address on the package.
For the second time in weeks, a present he has bought for Bill Clinton was given back to him after his generosity was reported in the newspapers.
This time, Clinton received a $7,000 treadmill from Gupta on Wednesday (because it's hard to stay fit when you're out of office). It arrived soon after Gupta's appointment to the John F Kennedy Center for Performing Arts' board of trustees. The appointment was made by Clinton during his last days in office.
That wasn't too long after Gupta, CEO and founder of database registry
infoUSA, made a $1 million contribution to Clinton's presidential library.
The New York Post reported the gift the following day it arrived at Clinton's office, and it was promptly sent back to its store.
The reason? A Clinton representative told the newspaper that he already had a treadmill.
Maybe if Gupta had sent Clinton a $100 pair of Asics runners he favors so much instead? After all, you need a good pair of shoes to wear on that treadmill. Cheaper, too. Plus, Gupta said he used them to 'escape' the
White House after spending a night in the Lincoln Bedroom. He told
rediff.com he "felt like a prisoner" during his stay there last year.
It just could be that Gupta felt apparel wasn't the right thing to give to
Clinton, since the first gift sent back to him was a leather jacket he had
bought for him.
Gupta once wore a leather jacket on a trip to the White House last year.
With an American flag emblazoned on it, he thought it would be
appropriately patriotic. It caught the eye of the President, who told Gupta
just how much he liked it.
It would be the perfect gift, Gupta figured. He bought one just like his for $250.
But Gupta's small gift came at a time when anything was too big for Clinton and his wife Hillary, who were berated for taking $190,000 worth of china, flatware, rugs, televisions, sofas and other gifts with them when they left the White House.
Embarrassed, the Clintons announced that they would pay for $86,000
worth of gifts.
That's why Gupta found an apology note in his mailbox from the White
House, along with a check for $450.
"Hillary and I appreciate your friendship and generosity during this past
year," it read.
"However, to resolve all questions concerning this whole matter, we are
sending you the enclosed check. We apologize for any inconvenience or
difficulty this may cause.
"Thank you very much. Warm regards. Bill Clinton."
Gupta had a good chuckle. "They sent a check for $450," he said. "They appraised it at a higher value than what I paid for it."
But he was quite annoyed that the ex-president had caved in so quickly and in such fashion to the criticism.
"I think the President overreacted," he told rediff.com at the time. "I don't think anyone would have expected him to pay this money back. I think he overreacted to the criticism by the Republicans, the Clinton-haters."
"When Ronald Regan retired, his friends bought him a house worth $2
million," Gupta said, "but that was okay. The amount of gifts you're talking
about [with Clinton] is very small.
"Not only that, but when Regan left, the country had become poorer. The wealth that Clinton has created in the last eight years is in trillions ... So if someone gives him a small gift, so what?"
Gupta has steadfastly believed that to get what you want done in America, you have to put your money where your mouth is.
He held a $1000-a-person fundraiser last March at his home in Omaha, Nebraska, for Hillary Clinton that raised $100,000 for her senate campaign.
He also raised $500,000 for a large party last May for Clinton and Al
Gore. His political contributions put him in the company of entertainment
moguls like Steven Spielberg and Haim Saban.
How generous will Gupta feel next time the politicos come knocking?
Gupta said he'd frame the check he got back from the White House, alongside the letter. No word on whether he'll take the treadmill for himself,
Oddly enough, the $1 million Gupta donated to Clinton's presidential library was never returned.
Business Profits from Clinton Apology
Gupta Won't Give Gore Another Shot
He's Slept in the White House and Proud of it
Back to top
Tell us what you think of this report