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.

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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.

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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. Bob

    "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."

    How nice. Instead of pitting $250,000 in her pocket, she gets a $250,000 tax deduction for her contribution to the Billary Foundation.

    June 28, 2014 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  2. SGM Bob

    Why, Hillary can't return the fee - she's dead broke. Didn't the UNLV students get that memo?

    June 28, 2014 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  3. Anonymous

    IRS Please investigate the foundation sure they have ( sarcasm )

    June 28, 2014 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  4. George Helm

    Good luck as the Clinton's greed knows no bounds!

    June 28, 2014 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  5. stingerhp

    Nice to see that there is some wakening out there, however, you asked it to come and speak, and paid in advance.. Enjoy the chat....

    June 28, 2014 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  6. WisconsinNorm

    There comes a time for everybody to go away. In this case a couple of Clinton's. They are billionaires by now and one can only hope they finally find the mate of their dreams. Bring on the next "smug" of rich democrats representing the poor.

    June 28, 2014 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  7. Malory Archer

    david dacosta
    if she has not made her speech yet...simply cancel it period..why do we have to pay her...she is still a public far as i am concern..she owes the American people that...Why would any one invite her for a speaking engagement in the first place...


    No, she isn't a public servant any longer. She holds no public office or cabinet position, nor is she employed in any civil servant capacity.

    June 28, 2014 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  8. Tommy G

    Chelsea Clinton Foundation

    Dedicated, I am sure, to the lining of Chelsea Clinton's pockets and the furthering of her bank accounts. A slush fund used to buy influence and further the Clinton's interests, which are their hold on power.

    June 28, 2014 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  9. just asking

    seriously? getting paid $225,000 to give what will be a campaign speech?! isn't this a publicly funded school?! so tax dollars are being funneled to the clintons by their cohorts in the liberal universities. welcome to the leftist/union corruption machine. they are now running/ruining the federal government in the very same way. the democrat party is the largest criminal enterprise in the history of the world.

    June 28, 2014 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  10. Nelvasauls

    My daughter works her butt off for less than $9.00 an hour and Hillary is making these big
    bucks. She is not for the "little" guy. She has no idea how "Po" folks live. I will never vote for her.

    June 28, 2014 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  11. jboh

    I recall Reagan getting a $1 million fee for a speach in Japan.

    June 28, 2014 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  12. Thomas

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


    Mitt Romney charges less !

    June 28, 2014 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  13. bertye brown

    How tired some of these comments are. And what Republican coalition put the students up to this? Would this have occurred if she had been anyone but a Democrat? I think not. The hypocrisy of this protest stinks. And if the monies did not come from the university coffers, what is it to the students? The Republican Supreme Court made it perfectly legal for donators to give anonymously, so it becomes a problem when it is Democrat? I don't see any of the wealthy apologizing for their status.

    June 28, 2014 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  14. ThinkAgain - Don't like Congress? Get rid of the repub/tea bag majority.

    @Nelvasauls: "My daughter works her butt off for less than $9.00 an hour and Hillary is making these big
    bucks. She is not for the "little" guy. She has no idea how "Po" folks live. I will never vote for her."

    I bet you're one of those people who complains that Liberals are jealous of those who are successful and "hate" the rich, right?

    Hillary's father was a small businessman, owning his own company (fabrics and textiles); he was successful. Again, what do you have against people who work hard and get ahead in life?

    Clinton is more than in touch with average Americans – and it scares you righties to DEATH.

    June 28, 2014 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  15. silavnus

    This isn't new. Popular politicians and etc.. have been charging for speeches for years. Republicans are only making this an issue because they don't want her to have any kind of chance at winning the presidency next year. I don't hear ANYONE screaming about speaking fees of any Republicans. If they could get that kind of a speaking fee...they'd do it in a heartbeat.
    LIke it or not--popularity in the public will draw higher appearance fees. This is nothing new people.

    June 28, 2014 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  16. iwearshoesinhentucky

    It was donor money not university money. UNLV students probably wanted that money to go towards buying better basketball players.

    June 28, 2014 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  17. hk jonus

    This isnt about Clinton, but I think in general, colleges shouldnt pay ANYONE to speak on campus. Its a slap in the face and a punch in the gut (also kick in the balls) to students that are paying 25k a year or more to attend those schools.

    June 28, 2014 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  18. iwearshoesinhentucky

    The money used was donor money. UNLV students probably wanted the donor money to be used to buy better basketball players.

    June 28, 2014 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  19. hk jonus

    SDSU paid G. Gordon Liddy $50k to speak and hes a convicted felon and a traitor to the country. What goes around comes around. But my question is, who's pocket does that money ultimately come out of? Tuition payers!

    June 28, 2014 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  20. Arthur

    i would like to know what Fee's or personal expenses the Clintons take form their foundation?

    June 28, 2014 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  21. Richard Right

    Sure sounds like money laundering for donations. Did the money come from foreign nationals or groups?

    June 28, 2014 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  22. Elvis

    No wonder she lost to Obama. She is pathetic.

    June 28, 2014 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    Useful idiots and Low Information Voters continue to believe the lies of the Clintons.

    June 28, 2014 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  24. Concerned Citizen

    Really – which other possible nominee for President are we going to get? Don't let politics rule. She is a person of notable achievements. All this talk about her comments about money is stupid. It's her business, not ours. Every student will learn that no matter what they do, or even how much you might earn, you will most likely never feel you have made enough. She is like all others in this respect. Yet, in her achievements and responsibilities she is exceptional.

    June 28, 2014 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  25. Thomas

    I don't trust her husband .

    A used car salesman in a expensive suit .

    Who ate my last piece of vegan strawberry sponge cake ?

    June 28, 2014 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
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