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.

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.

Related: Hillary Clinton wants 2014 Democrats to run on Obamacare

Prosecutor in controversial case says Clinton had no choice but to defend rapist

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

    are you kidding, She is so poor, she can't afford the stamp!!!!!

    June 28, 2014 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  2. robert ford

    GOOD LUCK! Remember she and Bill were broke. She needs to make money.

    June 28, 2014 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  3. Richard Right

    Pretty cool. Donation money laundering through the university and she'll say nothing wrong, nothing to see , just right wing haters

    June 28, 2014 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  4. Anonymous

    for the love of god, keep this woman out of our beautiful Michigan

    June 28, 2014 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  5. John

    And how many speaking fees do Republicans return?

    June 28, 2014 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  6. Anonymous

    Sure right into their pockets. These people are the biggest phony's there ever were. His lie, her lies, and now their daughter is following in their foot steps. I think the luster is finally coming off of the apple. When the truth about Bengazi starts coming out hopefully the ship will finally sink.

    June 28, 2014 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  7. Malory Archer

    I agree and believe it should be across the board for all politicians. While speaking at public colleges, universities and other publicly funded forums, their compensation should be limited to a stipend for travel, meals, lodging and incidentals.

    June 28, 2014 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  8. Anonymous

    Does she truly want to serve the people or is she in it just for the money?

    June 28, 2014 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  9. Carl Walther

    Hillary Clinton should be swinging from the gallows for all her crimes of Murder For Hire (the 100s of Americans that were either going to testify against her or were going to tell all about Hillary) & Treason (aiding the enemy is punishable by death the Clinton Obama Bengazi illegal arms and money to al-qaeda who are enemies of the U.S..

    June 28, 2014 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  10. Anonymous

    If this is what being poor looks like, sign me up.

    June 28, 2014 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  11. dale

    These people are the biggest phony's in the country. They lie when the truth sounds better. The so called foundation is their pockets. I believe not to long ago the so called foundation was broke. The sad thing is now their daughter is just like them. She doesn't care about money she says. She lives in a Ten millon dollar apartment. Now folks how much BS can you throw out there. These are bad people. Hopefully with everything finally coming out about her she will start going away.

    June 28, 2014 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  12. Lonewolf

    The angry hate filled Repubs are at it again.

    June 28, 2014 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  13. joe

    And how much are Bill, Hillary and Chelsea paid by their foundation for the "work" they do for the foundation?

    June 28, 2014 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  14. Bob

    To much bad baggage and a real lack of tried leadership qualities for my vote.

    June 28, 2014 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  15. Alfred E Newman

    You'd have to pay me to listen to Hillary.

    June 28, 2014 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  16. rtm

    It's probably true. When Bill and Hillary left the White House they were probably broke, from all the attorney fees they had to pay for their defense from all the assorted previous corrupt activities. Hillary had White Water debacle, while Bill had to continuously defend why he didn't have sex with those women.

    June 28, 2014 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  17. Anonymous

    The Democrats have a Robin Robin Scam going. She's Charging for a Democratic Party Paid Political Announcement/
    Campaign Stump. The party subsidizes, sustains, and maintains itself by its Tax Exempt/Non Profits of their
    Exclusive Special Interests. It is all fed back into Party Central.
    The Clinton Foundation, LGBT, Planned Parenthood, NAACP, all the Hispanic Tax Exempts for "Amnesty",
    The Joyce Foundation's Gun Control (both Obama & Jarrett served on that Board), Soro's Open Society, the Tides
    Foundation and Obama incessant Campaigning and Fundraising. Seeds, feeds, fertilizes, and waters the Crops.
    The Clintons wouldn't be "IN" Politics if it wasn't Profitable and with insider trading tips, benefits, and life time
    pay checks. They are crooks and documented LIARS.

    June 28, 2014 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  18. Tom1940

    $24,000-plus does sound a bit "much" for someone who has not too much to say. At least her testimony before Congress since stepping down as SOS didn't reveal much about what she knew, when she knew it, etc. Nor was she very forthcoming about her physical fitness to serve the country as President should the time come. I would have asked for the money back too. In fact, I don't think I would have spent the money in the first place.

    June 28, 2014 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  19. arow79

    If you are stupid enough to pay her to come to your school you deserve to loose the money, I would not pay her or her husband to clean my toilet, she is a fake, and a lair, look at what her husband did, Lied right to us on national TV, yet she claims she was broke when she left the white house, who is stupid enough to believe that, O I forgot the American People are that voted for HUSAIN OBAMA

    June 28, 2014 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  20. Brent

    What, at this point, does it matter?

    June 28, 2014 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  21. Zach

    Hillary is certainly raking in the cash, but what does U. of Nevada expect to get in return for her $225,000 speech? Her words are obviously golden, but isn't this just a way of making political contributions? Neat scam.

    June 28, 2014 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  22. smilingdon

    Don't hold your breath waiting for the money!

    June 28, 2014 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  23. Cog

    She is so poor, she needs that money more than you.
    Top Ramen noodles for you, cake for her.

    June 28, 2014 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  24. Bill Peck

    A contract is a contract; she keeps the money and the students need to take some higher education courses on spending. They have been put up to the "ask for it back" by the facualty.

    June 28, 2014 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  25. Peter Boonisar

    Do not show up and picket the fundraiser.

    June 28, 2014 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
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