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First Senator-Elect, Now Author

Hillary Rodham Clinton is the most sought-after author in the publishing business these days, with bidding for her memoirs topping $7 million, according to an industry source.

The source, who works at one of the publishing companies bidding for the senator-elect's book, spoke on condition of anonymity.

The auction for the book is being conducted by Washington lawyer Robert Barnett, who declined comment. Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson had no comment either.

Interest in the first lady's book is especially strong because she has indicated she would discuss President Clinton's impeachment and his affair with Monica Lewinsky. Her contract will probably exceed the $7.1 million given to General Electric chairman Jack Welch last summer.

In 1989, President Reagan received more than $8 million for a two-book deal.

One person familiar with the situation, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Wednesday that the first lady wants a large advance to help with the purchase of a house in Washington. The New York Times reported that she wants most of the money paid to her before the end of this year. President Clinton must vacate the White House next month.

In response to the Times report, a nonpartisan watchdog organization called on the senator-elect to forgo any advance, citing Senate ethics standards that call for book deals to include "usual and customary contractual terms."

"If today's news reports are true, these are not usual and customary terms for a book deal," said Gary Ruskin, director of the Congressional Accountability Project, based in Washington. "We urge senator-elect Clinton to forsake any book advance and take only copyright royalties from any book deal."

Wolfson said that "Hillary will be complying with all Senate rules and regulations."

Following then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich's agreement to a $4.5 million book advance from HarperCollins, the House in 1995 amended its rules so that members "may not receive an advance payment on copyright royalties." Gingrich later gave up the advance in exchange for a deal that gives him royalties on book sales. The Senate has no such rule.

The Clintons already are carrying a large mortgage on the $1.7 million house they purchased last year in Westchester County just north of New York City. Mrs. Clinton moved into the house in January, establishing residency in the state where she had never lived before.

On Nov. 7, she beat Republican Rep. Rick Lazio to win the Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Daniel Patrick Moynihan. She is the only first lady ever elected to office.

Written By MARC HUMBERT ©2000 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed