Monday, April 15, 2024

Obamas’ $60 Million Book Advance Will Get Tax Breaks from Massive Donations to Charities


Barack and Michelle Obama are each getting $30 million book deals from Penguin Random House. So how will that affect taxes for all concerned? This morning a press release from the book company gives some idea;

“In support of the mission of The Obama Foundation and Penguin Random House’s own commitment to social responsibility, the company will donate one million books in the Obama family’s name to First Book, a longstanding Penguin Random House non-profit partner and the Washington, DC-based partner for the 2016 White House digital education initiative, Open eBooks. First Book is dedicated to promoting equal access to education by providing new books, learning materials, and other essentials to children in need in the United States and Canada. Consistent with their past practice, the Obamas also plan to donate a significant portion of their author proceeds to charity, including the Obama Foundation.”

I’ve never heard of First Book, but according to GuideStar, which is funny because they pay a PR firm called Drascena Communications $956K in fees.

Even funnier: Drascena has no website or any footprint on the internet. But according to Politico, which mentioned them in another context a couple of years ago they’re part of the Pearson Foundation. Pearson owns Random Penguin etc. First Books claims $37 million in net assets.

And get this: Pearson paid Drascena $5 million in fees in 2012-2013 according to documents. Drascena’s only listed address is an apartment in Mill Valley, California.

The other news from Random Penguin is that the books will be issued under the Crown Books logo. That’s surprising because Crown is a lot less prestigious than Random House, Penguin or Viking. When I think of Crown, I think of cookbooks and so on. But maybe that’s changed. In English language territories, however, the books will under Viking Press. Those include the United Kingdom, Australia, India, Ireland, New Zealand, and South Africa.

In every other territory around the world, different Random Viking Penguin labels will handle the books.

I’m hopeful that these books will describe the reason that Valerie Jarrett has moved into the Obamas’ new home in Washington, DC instead of Ms. Jarrett getting her own pad. You’d think after 8 years in the Whie House, the Obamas would want to be alone. Very “Three’s Company.”

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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