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

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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. Thomas

    Great !

    Paid way to much for speaking at colleges , both parties should be ashamed !

    June 27, 2014 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  2. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    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.

    Desperation thy name is GOP. They are scared ishless of Hillary.

    June 27, 2014 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  3. RWB1956

    Hey Republicans! How about you just come up with a candidate who can challenge Clinton. Or that too much?

    June 27, 2014 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  4. A Kickin' Donkey

    Aren't those Republicans always touting the "free market'? So why are they begrudging Madam Secretary's right to be paid for her services; for her time?

    If they're were no demand for her, the fees wouldn't be there or they would be painfully small. Republicans need to recognize that these swords cut both ways. They also need to recognize that there are MORE OF US than there are of THEM and they would be wise not to piss us off.

    Democrats tend to be more honorable, more legalistic, more "rules-based", than Republicans. This is why the right is so quick to call us "elitists" or intellectual snobs; we embrace unimpeachable facts and live with the consequences. Republicans think they can move the goal posts from left to right depending on their desired outcome.

    When we start voting in "off year" elections as we do in presidential year elections, this thing is a wrap.

    June 27, 2014 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  5. emskadittle

    so all republicans are going to give up their speaking fees?

    June 27, 2014 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  6. Bianca

    Speaking fees have just gotten outrageous all around. One author we reached out to recently requested $75k plus round-trip first-class airfare to conduct two readings at our university's campus. For someone as well-known as Hillary Clinton, $225k is not unreasonable (according to the current standard).

    June 27, 2014 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  7. Nic_Driver

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

    Ok...why?

    ""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. "

    So now the GOP has a problem with capitalism?

    I sure wish they'd make up their minds.

    June 27, 2014 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  8. mickey

    lots of luck with that children. that money is probably overseas by now.

    June 27, 2014 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  9. Wes

    hillary is a disaster.

    June 27, 2014 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  10. The Real Tom Paine

    Then she should return it. I would also think that Dick Cheney and anyone who intends to influence national policy should not be collecting speaking fees either.

    June 27, 2014 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  11. Gary

    It is reported that the Clintons are worth $100,000,000. Once again Bill, you have made a wrong decision. You should have been a congressman from California. I hear they are worth over $300,000,000.

    June 27, 2014 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  12. Paul

    Republicans cannot hide their hatred against our next Madame President

    June 27, 2014 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  13. deborah

    Why would she need to return the fee? This would never be happening if she were a man! And I am sure they had other celebrities & politicians speak at their school? But refund a fee that you knew upfront would cost?
    NOT in this lifetime.!!!

    June 27, 2014 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  14. Hdrake

    Here's her test see if money doesn't matter.

    June 27, 2014 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  15. DesertFox

    Campaign for people not to attend and let her speak to an empty house.

    June 27, 2014 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  16. Pander Bear

    More BS from the right wing. It's all they have.

    June 27, 2014 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  17. vnohara

    No speech worth tens of thousands, let alone hundreds.

    Private donations = pay back grease and the university is acting as middleman.

    June 27, 2014 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  18. Bill Spahr

    Why invite this lying, deceitful, conniving thief ion the first place? Surely there are honest, God and country loving people to choose from and invite.

    June 27, 2014 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  19. Thomas

    The United States says it will no longer produce or buy any anti-personnel landmines.

    A White House statement also said it would not seek to replace expiring stockpiles of the weapons.

    THANK YOU MR PRESIDENT FOR DOING WHAT BILL CLINTON AND GW BUSH HAD NOT THE SPINE TO DO !

    THANK YOU !

    June 27, 2014 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  20. NVAN

    Return the money with 29% interest

    June 27, 2014 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  21. Sara

    To accept $250,000 for an hour of speaking is so far out of touch with Americans who do not make that kind of money working (hard) more than 8,000 hours. The moral and ethical compass of Hillary is just flat broken.....it's not her bank account that was flat broke, it's her repeated behavior.

    June 27, 2014 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  22. Man in the Street

    Wonder what Hillary's non-public response to the students was? "Buzz off" – "Who cares what you think" – "The value of my thoughts and words are worth more than I charge"? Hillary has two qualities that will always charge as much as the public will bare – Ego & Ambitiion. They drive her decisions. If you think her approach to speaking fees is high, wait till you see her plans for tax payers earnings. She will be more Obama that BHO.

    June 27, 2014 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  23. racindavid

    $225K for a half hour speech... and she's "broke"... Intellectually maybe. Ethically, definitely. Morally, for sure.

    June 27, 2014 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  24. Tom

    It seems Mrs. Clinton is becoming more like her husband all the time. As with Bill, you can tell when she's lying because her mouth is moving.

    June 27, 2014 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  25. CharlieEcho

    What could Hillary possibly say that isn't included in her book?

    June 27, 2014 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
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