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. Sally

    Didn't Hillary say that they were pretty much broke, WHEN they left the White House because of debt,? Isn't that the same thing Sarah Palin said which was her excuse for quitting her Governorship two years into her first term? Or is there no outrage there, or did they ask Palin to return speaking money?

    June 28, 2014 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    Give me just $2,000 and I will talk about all the failures in my life.

    June 28, 2014 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  3. thiruc

    Why do UNLV students want Hilary Clinton to return the money to its source? The best way is for the students to boycott the fund-raising event, if they can.

    June 28, 2014 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  4. JustTheFacts

    Well you see folks Hillary isn't "truly wealthy" according to herself. Apparently her and Bill must have a spending problem then in order to burn through a couple of 100s of millions of dollars. The money certainly isn't for Chelsea either, because apparently she doesn't even care about money. She said so from the living room of her 10 million dollar condo.

    June 28, 2014 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  5. Stan

    Free market dictates what she gets paid. nothing liberal about that.

    June 28, 2014 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  6. Robert Snyder

    If she has made "missteps" promoting her book, what qualifies her, the woman of deceit, lies and scandals, to be president.

    June 28, 2014 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  7. Duke

    The more exposure she and Bill are getting right now will only hurt her chances of being the next president, six years ago she would have won if Obama had chosen not to run but now she is getting to be "old hat" and a flipflopping stand by your man, arrogant in your face type. I'm looking at other choices now.

    June 28, 2014 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    Should pay her to keep quiet.

    June 28, 2014 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  9. bill

    They should pay her to shut up.

    June 28, 2014 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  10. Zach

    Of course, the speaking fee goes to the Clinton Foundation, which employs...wait for it...Bill and Hillary Clinton! Gee, do you think this slippery pair gets a cut of that foundation money?

    June 28, 2014 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  11. Richard

    This underscores the absurdity of her claims to be impoverished. She trades on her connections to earn huge speaking fees and book royalties and tells us how hard she has it. There's a huge credibility gap. Did anyone fact-check her book?

    June 28, 2014 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  12. J P Harmon

    People don't understand the system that Bill had. Prior to being elected POTUS, Slick Willie was your typical corrupt politician enriching himself; (Whitewater, Rose law firm, Tyson Chicken, kick-backs, etc.). After being elected, he made fortunes for those around him. When he left office much of that money came back to him. Nobody wants to hear either of them speak for 1/4 million dollars, but it's paid to return favors (and a write-off). Hillary never got this; she wants her pay-back immediately (cattle futures $1000 turned into $100, 000 etc.). This is the most corrupt couple in history surpassed only by the Obama.

    June 28, 2014 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    absurd money for a speech of anyone and yet college fees up 27% last 3 years theirs an agenda here more money to professors avg salary for Nevada full time professors 263,000

    June 28, 2014 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  14. Rico

    She should take the money and fight off the critics. Remember what Romney had to endure? What goes around comes around.

    June 28, 2014 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  15. Mikey444

    ...a couple of months ago some right winger was going to speak at a college and they protested her being there. She (they) cancelled her speech...but she got paid anyway. Never a thought of giving that back. At least Hillary will make the speech.

    June 28, 2014 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  16. Getoverit

    @Malory Archer
    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.
    Then why is she holding town hall meetings and getting daily coverage by the media?

    June 28, 2014 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  17. Reed_d_a1

    Let Chelsea pay for it. She just nailed a $600,000/year gig with no credentials, no talent and no need to smoke any cigars. Not your average recent college graduate, huh?

    June 28, 2014 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  18. lapd13142

    Looks like the light is finally coming on ... about time!

    June 28, 2014 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  19. Just sayin'

    So...making money is bad when Democrats do it? Ridiculous double standard only promulgated by idiots.

    June 28, 2014 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  20. David Lilley

    Did she not speak like they requested ? Did she not Show up? How would they like if Their parents or loan institutions said they wanted their money back now because they didn't like a course they were taking?

    June 28, 2014 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  21. American1st

    The Democrats pride themselves on fighting for the oppressed and the poor, yet they will join in gaining the spoils of politics and being celebrities. The Clintons bask in the glory of fighting for Civil rights and the rights of women and miniorities. Abortion rights are so important to Hillary and Bill and little Chelsea, but when it comes down to proving their unequivocable support for it, Chelsea upon Mom and Dad's requests will have her child, but let it be any woman with a personal or political issue and they will guarantee her right to abort the child. The Clintons are no different than the Republicans they demonize as wealthy insensitive snobs, which I agree that the Republicans cannot claim the high road either. Our two party system has created ineffective and inept leaders at every level of government, because the focus is on defeating the enemy not serving the people of this nation. All those politicians only serve themselves. The Clintons are a perfect example as their next generation is being prepped and proned for her own run for the White House in the future. Don't be surprised in the near future when dear little Chelsea will run for U.S. Representative or U.S. Senator prior to a run for the White House. Mom and Dad have that in their sites not just for themselves, but for their precious little offspring.

    June 28, 2014 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  22. mlawson447

    Republicant posturing. The headline makes implies that ALL students are behind this. This is a few Republicants, that's all.

    June 28, 2014 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  23. Leon

    Those who booked this should be fired . . . Hillary's record speaks for itself she has nothing productive to contribute . . . but she'll take your money dumby!

    June 28, 2014 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  24. don in albuquerque

    Most of the posts here are just idiotic and uninformed. Any time professionals speak, just as any time performers perform they are most usually handled by an agency. That same agency handles all the details as well as charges for such appearance and guarantees the performer (speaker) will be there at said time and place. And in most cases that agency sets the fees depending on how popular the entertainer is (or speaker) at the time. For various shows (lets just call them all "shows" for ease) the cost for a performance can be astronomical, this ranges from touring Broadway, to rock groups, to speakers. They are all entertainment and sometimes enlightenment. Sports falls into very much the same bracket, care to guess what your favorite NFL star makes a year? To squeal that "I make minimum wage and work much harder for it" it simply ludicrous. And as usual "just asking" yours is the most ludicrous post of all.

    June 28, 2014 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  25. bugboo48

    How could they possibly be so insensitive. Don't they realize that the woman was recently "dead broke" ?

    June 28, 2014 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
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