Nevada university students call on Clinton to return speaking fee
June 27th, 2014
05:53 PM ET
5 months ago

Nevada university students call on Clinton to return speaking fee

Washington (CNN) – When it rains, it pours for Hillary Clinton.

Students at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas are asking the former secretary of state to return the speaking fee she is set to collect when she appears at a university fundraiser in October.

The calls, which are gleefully being pushed by national and state Republicans, come at an inopportune time for Clinton, whose "Hard Choices" book tour has largely been defined by missteps she’s made regarding her wealth and steep speaking fees.

Sales of Clinton's 'Hard Choices' drop by over 40% in second week

The University of Nevada-Las Vegas announced this week that Clinton, a likely 2016 presidential candidate, would headline their annual fundraising dinner in this fall. The university is paying Clinton $225,000 for the appearance with money from "private donations secured by the UNLV foundation," according to a spokeswoman for the university who went on to say that no money from the school's operating budget will be used on the fee.

Even with that caveat, the news of Clinton's fee did not sit well with the university’s students, especially considering Nevada's higher education board decided to raise tuition by 17% earlier this month.

Elias Benjelloun, the UNLV student body president, and Daniel Waqar, the student government's public relations director, told Nevada political reporter John Ralston that the speaking fee is "a bit outrageous."

"We'd like Secretary Clinton, respectfully, to gracefully return the money to the university or the foundation," Waqar told Ralston on Thursday.

Pushing back against the controversy, a Clinton aide told CNN that the UNLV speaking fee would go to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation, not to the former first lady directly.

This is not the first time Clinton has appeared at a university for a fee, but because Clinton recently made two noticeable slip-ups when answering questions about her wealth and speaking fees, Republicans are seizing on any news that continues the storyline.

Hillary Clinton on wealth missteps: 'My record speaks for itself'

In March of 2003, Clinton spoke to the University of Los Angeles-California as part of a donor-sponsored speaker series.

The former secretary of state was paid $300,000 for that appearance, according to a spokesman for the college. At the time of the speech, an event organizer told CNN that Clinton was not being paid.

"No tuition dollars or public money were used for this fee," Jean-Paul Renaud told CNN on Friday. "Actually, the fee was a gift made to us specifically to attract people like Hillary Clinton."

Renaud also noted that the UCLA speaker series is funded by a gift from Meyer Luskin, a Los Angeles business man who requires that the money is used to bring in high profile speakers.

"We are bound to do such things with the gift," Renaud said.

A Clinton aide confirmed that the fee from the UCLA speech, too, went directly to the foundation.

Clinton also addressed the University of Miami in February. Donna Shalala, the university's president and a former Bill Clinton cabinet member, told reporters at the time that Clinton was being paid a "discounted" rate for the appearance.

When asked by the Wall Street Journal on Friday whether Clinton's speaking fee was close to $200,000, Shalala said "No, no, no, no, no, no" and confirmed that a private donor covered Clinton's fee.

A spokesman for Clinton did not comment on where the money from the Miami speech went.

Clinton's Republican critics have aggressively pushed the story as more proof that Clinton is paid too much to be in touch with average Americans. The attack line has turned into a narrative for Republicans who, from day one of Clinton's book tour, seized on the former first lady saying she and her husband were "dead broke" when they left the White House.

First on CNN: National Republicans say Hillary Clinton is next Obama, not husband

"Hillary Clinton’s speaking fee at UNLV is more than 4 times what the average Nevadan makes in a year," Jahan Wilcox, an RNC spokesman, noted in a statement to reporters. Tim Miller, the executive director for America Rising, an anti-Clinton super PAC, called the UNLV Clinton fee absurd.

Since leaving the State Department in 2013, Clinton has been a highly sought after speaker for university, cooperate and conference events.

While many of her speeches are paid, Clinton also regularly appears for free at certain events.

When she addressed the United Methodist Women Assembly in April, for example, Clinton did not charge a fee and organizers noted on stage that she paid her own way to the event.

"When Mrs. Clinton accepted our invitation to speak before us today, she declined our standard honorarium and covered her own expenses," United Methodist Women President Yvette Richards said in introducing Clinton.

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Filed under: 2016 • Hillary Clinton • Nevada
soundoff (465 Responses)
  1. Hp

    It's kind of sad and sickening that in the US becoming president or holding another high political office makes you an instant billion dollar lottery winner.

    June 28, 2014 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  2. ben

    its all about publicity stunts to get that 5 min of fame that's AMERICA a freaking show DAMM SHAME

    June 28, 2014 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  3. maki

    "My record speaks for itself" it sure does, "What does it matter" because we say it matters to us.

    June 28, 2014 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  4. TJ

    Clinton Foundation website: "President Clinton and Secretary Clinton will match your gift dollar for dollar until June 30"
    Yeah, they know what it's like to be "one of the little people"

    June 28, 2014 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  5. Lloyd R

    .... Hillarie is a Liar of Insane Proportion!

    June 28, 2014 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  6. GUAL

    As I said many time Mrs. H. Clinton might be a nice lady but she needs more than the Clinton name to qualified as a president .

    June 28, 2014 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  7. Marge

    Jeez people, get a life. You think the male politicians don't get like payment for their appearances?

    June 28, 2014 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  8. Kevin

    Republicans may be gleeful but their speaking fees are at risk as well.

    June 28, 2014 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  9. Frankie

    Why should the students pay her to campaign? She should pay them for the opportunity. Her and Bill are the richest former First Family in US History. Shame on Hillary

    June 28, 2014 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  10. incog99

    A "Foundation" is a ruse used by the wealthy to avoid paying taxes on money earned until they use it. It is nothing more than a slush fund.

    The real question should be: "Why isn't Hillary paying taxes on the money earned?"

    June 28, 2014 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  11. shecky green

    Hillary is so poor she takes in the garbage. He house is so small the front door and the back door are on the same hinges.
    Her house is so dirty the roaches have dune buggies. Her house is so dirty people wipe their feet to go outside.
    She is so poor she washes q-tips. Her house is so small as soon as you walk in your already leaving.

    June 28, 2014 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  12. Sutton Hu

    I think some of the negative comments about Hillary"s speaking fees are skewed negatively by people's perception of her and Bill. It is quite common for high ranking business people and politicians to charge hefty speaking fees to make a lot of money once they leave office. I vaguely recall being shocked when Mr. Reagan was paid several millions for about a one week speaking tour in Japan after he left office. This type of money making is one of the few real bi-partisan activities we see in political life.

    June 28, 2014 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  13. shecky green

    Say Hillary, If you give me $225,000 and I will speak at your next tea party. I like you have nothing of any importance to talk about and three year olds can probably give better adivice but I do like money and have alot of free time. So what do you say?

    June 28, 2014 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  14. Brian

    That was Moral bankruptcy not monetary.

    June 28, 2014 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  15. Mr.SmokesTooMuch

    When did taking private money from fat-cat billionaires and giving it to charity become a bad thing?

    June 28, 2014 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  16. steve white

    Hillary is not my pick ! but I don't like this way of doing, you make a deal still to it:

    June 28, 2014 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  17. geof giles

    No, we are not ready for her to be President, she should give up the idea

    June 28, 2014 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  18. Byron Faulkner

    I have the distinguished honor of being asked to be on the Committee to raise $45,000,000 for a monument of Hillary R. Clinton. We originally wanted to put her on Mt. Rushmore until we discovered there was not enough room for two more faces. We then decided to erect a statue of Hillary in the Washington, D.C. Hall Of Fame. We were in a quandary as to where the statue should be placed. It was not proper to place it beside the statue of George Washington, who never told a lie, or beside her husband William J. Clinton, who never told the truth, since Hillary could never tell the difference.

    We finally decided to place it beside Christopher Columbus,the greatest Democrat of them all. He left, not knowing where he was going, and when he got there he didn't know where he was. He returned not knowing where he had been and did it all on somebody else's money.

    Thank you,

    Hillary R. Clinton Committee

    P. S. The Committee has raised $1.35 so far.

    June 28, 2014 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  19. older and wiser

    And yet Palin rakes in millions and nobody squirms, but if Sarah wears that red satin blouse they would double that money.

    June 28, 2014 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  20. voiceinthewilderness

    Hillary will return the money as you put it gracefully, you know why? because she is Presidential Material.

    June 28, 2014 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  21. Norma jean

    SHE SHOULD RETURN THE MONEY WITHOUT COMMENT AND NOT SPEAK!!!.... IF I WERE HER I WOULD SPEAK SOMEWHERE ELSE.....FREE~!!........As for what she said about money....weathy people have their own point of view when it comes to their money....I bet even the Koch Bros. complain sometimes.......

    June 28, 2014 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  22. voiceinthewilderness

    Go ahead, make your sarcastic remarks, but you are talking to the Next President of the free World.

    June 28, 2014 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  23. exkanana

    She says her record speaks for itself. Yes, it sure does; and what does it say: Lies, greed, condescension and obscene language directed at underlings, evasions ("What difference does it make now"), and the usual line of liberal B. S.

    June 28, 2014 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  24. FreeMoneyForEverybody

    What's the problem, kids? She obviously needs the money for a cankle-reduction surgery prior to her 2016 run for the President of the United States.

    Probably, it's just the Republican and/or conservative students who don't to pay Hillary Clinton; I'm sure the Democrat/Liberal/Progressive students and their parents are just fine with the more than $200,000 fee. Right?

    June 28, 2014 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  25. Alan

    Men get paid without all the bs, she should too. Greedy Republicans would never give up their fees. Ask Sarah Palin who gets paid and has no good track record to justify her money.

    June 28, 2014 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
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