Nevada university students call on Clinton to return speaking fee
June 27th, 2014
05:53 PM ET
6 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.

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"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. james

    you agreed to the asking price and now you think its too much but yet you will pay some idiot 3 times that to coach a COLLEGE football team

    June 28, 2014 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  2. moomo

    The university should use the money to give a scholarship to some poor student who cannot afford to attend college!

    June 28, 2014 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  3. moomo

    What is the BILL ,Hillary and Chelsea foundation?

    June 28, 2014 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  4. Procivic

    A platform to hustle for the 2016 presidential nomination, a chance to advertize her book whose title she constantly repeats over the airwaves and instead of paying UNLV for giving her this opportunity for self-promotion she demands more than a quarter of a million dollars - something's wrong here.

    June 28, 2014 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  5. Marcus (from...?)

    Byron Faulkner – Albeit completely innacurate regarding the Columbus bit, and filled with usual Bill Clinton = Liar diatribe, at least I cannot say that your post, for a change, wasn't funny.
    For your information:
    Columbus knew exactly where he was going, he simply didn't knew that between where he started his journey and his destination there was a continente, many years later a Portuguese dude called Magellan (using the same info that Columbus had PLUS the knowledge that there was a continente in the middle of the 'road') managed to achieve Columbus original plan, prove that the Earth was around (and get India traveling West almost all the way).
    The problem with Columbus was that when he was confronted with the possibility that he was wrong about the fact that he was NOT in Asia but in an unknown land he went nuts (going to the lenghts of making his crew swear that Cuba was a continent) and had to be removed from any position of power because of his incapacity to accept the possibility that he could be wrong...
    Like some folks from the Tea Party I read about on a daily basis BTW.

    June 28, 2014 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  6. dial4up

    I get up, and nothing gets me down.
    You got it tough. I've seen the toughest around.
    And I know, baby, just how you feel.
    You've got to roll with the punches to get to what's real

    Oh can't you see me standing here,
    I've got my back against the record machine
    I ain't the worst that you've seen.
    Oh can't you see what I mean?

    Might as well jump. Jump!
    Might as well jump.
    Go ahead, and jump. Jump!
    Go ahead, andjump.

    Aaa-ohh hey you! Who said that?
    Baby how you been?
    You say you don't know, you won't know
    until we begin.

    Well can't you see me standing here,
    I've got my back against the record machine
    I ain't the worst that you've seen.
    Oh can't you see what I mean?

    Might as well jump. Jump!
    Go ahead and, jump.
    Might as well jump. Jump!
    Go ahead and, jump.

    Might as well jump. Jump!
    Go ahead and, jump.
    Get it and jump. Jump!
    Go ahead and, jump.

    June 28, 2014 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  7. Mindy

    Hillary can charge whatever she wants for her speeches. I only marvel that anyone wants to pay it.

    June 28, 2014 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    oh go beat up on people trying to eat on 189.00 worth of food stamps a month, it's much more acceptable. Why anyone would even consider paying that hag 250,000 for telling her brand of lies ss truly all American, I don't care where the money goes. You can bet she benefits more than the 250, in the end. the super thieves are worshiped and respected by the airheads that can't rub 2 nickels together. Disgusting.! That kind of money can pay for 20 to 30 year mortgages on a couple of students college education

    June 28, 2014 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  9. macho

    Unbelievable the number of ignoramus who don't understand the issue here. Let me explain it in simple terms for your peewee brains. Remember: she's a Democrat/Socialist and like all liberals hates people who make a lot of money. And yet here she is making a killing for appearing at an event and spewing out socialist/liberal ideas. Get it? Got it? Good.

    June 28, 2014 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  10. james

    I remember when the white house asked her to return the dishes.

    June 28, 2014 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  11. Marvin Humphreys

    I have a question: If the Republicans are the ones who are pushing this news story concerning the Clinton's wealth, why am I reading it on CNN?

    June 28, 2014 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  12. jonaD

    She needs to charge EXTRA for handling these kinds of special interest outcries. Maybe $2000. a day for a staff of three to respond to these immature attempts at pandering to the social media's massive gluttony.

    June 28, 2014 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  13. Bea

    The fee was paid by a private group and the money is going to charity. What's the problem?

    June 28, 2014 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  14. Eddie Brown

    A lifetime career bemoaning economic disparity and finger wagging at the 1%. Very cute. Listen, nothing wrong with making boat loads of money. Lord knows we would all do it if we could. But please, don't brow beat a CEO over his or her hundred million bonus when you're banking ten grand a minute for shooting the breeze behind a podium.

    June 28, 2014 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  15. Eddie Brown

    And what exactly is she speaking about that is worth that kind of bank?

    June 28, 2014 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    "Hillary Clinton’s speaking fee at UNLV is more than 4 times what the average Nevadan makes in a year..."

    The average Nevadan was never close to being Secretary of State, or most likely unable to give a speech on any subject.

    June 29, 2014 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
  17. Charles Hoelderlin

    I think it is outrageous that the student union wants Hillary Clinton to return her speaking fee. Don't they know that Hillary is dead broke!

    June 29, 2014 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  18. Blake

    She should not be able to be paid $225,000 for going there and giving a campaign speech, which is exactly what she will be doing.

    June 29, 2014 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
  19. sdgman

    Waitaminute... Sarah Palin just got $115,000 to speak at West Hills Community College in California... Didn't hear any republicans complaining about that or demanding she return the money.

    June 29, 2014 12:52 am at 12:52 am |
  20. Bill Penrod

    What the Clinton's return cash, hell their nearly broke...................

    June 29, 2014 01:53 am at 1:53 am |
  21. Revealer

    Nobody is worth $225,000 for a speech. Why anyone would consider ONE person worth that amount of money to speak to them must be mentally unbalanced to begin with. If it is a fundraiser, is Hillary Clinton so greedy she couldn't donate her time and voice for the speech?

    Americans or others are so stupid to pay anyone for any speech to any organization of more than $100 for it. What can Hillary Clinton talk about that others can do for less and be proud of the fact that they were chosen rather than be paid for the opportunity. Just get someone who is smart to convey something worthwhile listening to instead of garbage most speak about. Same for celebrities who are so self obsessed with themselves, like Hillary Clinton or others, who are not worth more than the minimum wage.

    June 29, 2014 02:08 am at 2:08 am |
  22. Allen W Larson

    The money is being paid by a private citizen and is not coming from student fees. How stupid can these Republicans be? Check the speaking fees for Conservative politicians.

    June 29, 2014 02:27 am at 2:27 am |
  23. John Strom

    Do they really think Hillary Clinton is going to return that money? Not a chance in Hell. She and Bill are the pair who stripped the White House of furniture and furnishings when they winged it out of there. She is one cheap and greedy babe who thinks she's the greatest thing since sliced bread not that she has one real achievement in her life to point to. Good luck – that filthy lucre is gone forever.

    June 29, 2014 02:28 am at 2:28 am |
  24. pasquanole

    Interesting how someone comes out and says return our fee for the speech and its news. I wonder if i went to Home Depot and asked for them to exchange a hammer would that be news?
    Because a bunch of kids thought that the speaking price was to excessive this is what makes news? I suppose when they find out that hamburgers at the school cafeteria have gone up by $0.20 is that going to be news?
    Whatever you call it, the entire media circus has become draining to anyone of any capability to use critical thinking skills.
    Yahoo, there was a cat on my kitchen window stoop this morning, come to my place and I will give you the details, meanwhile, North Korea has launched 2 more rockets into the seas off of the peninsula, NASA has tested a new technology for landing people on Mars, Russia is telling the Russian people that the US is responsible for their problem with Ukraine, The Russian Duma have taken the ability for Vladimir Putin to use force openly against Ukraine away and Russian heavy weapons are streaming into Eastern Ukraine. Is this the best your reporters can do?

    June 29, 2014 02:32 am at 2:32 am |
  25. pasquanole

    I had to return a broken mop to Ace Hardeware yesterday, is that big news as well?
    The cashier at McDonalds didn't seem to happy yesterday when i went through the driver through, this should be an article for Yahoo news.
    My wife saw a cat on our kitchen stoop this morning, how about an article Yahoo?
    In the current climate of malicious partisanship and social division, is this the best Yahoo reporters can give us?

    June 29, 2014 02:36 am at 2:36 am |
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