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. Anonymous

    For the first time since since 1976 I will not be casting a presidential vote. Thanks Hillary.

    June 28, 2014 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  2. morteza

    Nothing wrong with her wrong hopes, but redilcious to claim that she has got a chance, she knows presisly that she has not got any chance , but with these lies , she can have chance to promote herbooks sale , and not starve to death.

    June 28, 2014 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  3. morteza

    You can see from photo , she is crying as she sees no chance of living even with more lies about herself and her believes.

    June 28, 2014 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    figure the odds from these crooks!!!

    June 28, 2014 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  5. soullfire

    Most politicians are wealthy, and the ones who aren't soon join the group after they've been in Washington for a couple of terms.

    Republicans attacking Hillary on the basis of "wealth" are opening themselves up to the same attack when their candidates start running.

    June 28, 2014 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    Plutocracy= USA

    June 28, 2014 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  7. don in albuquerque

    But why would anyone pay to hear a two time loser like MittWitt? He is also older then Hillary, but she hasn't had the face lifts or uses Grecian Formula.

    June 28, 2014 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  8. donc

    what diference does it make as the voters are too dumb to know.....4 more years.....4 more years...or it that 40 more years?

    June 28, 2014 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    The school knows what her fee is. A lot of famous people get large fees for speaking. If you don't like the fee .. don't ask her to come to your school. Simple!!

    June 28, 2014 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  10. ED1

    Why she is just like her husband a taker not a giver.

    June 28, 2014 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  11. Jim Campbell

    If these events were paid by "private donations secured by the UNLV foundation," or "Actually, the fee was a gift made to us specifically to attract people like Hillary Clinton." as the article states – then why cant colleges or other public organizations use this money to help the students and stop raising the tuitions every year?

    June 28, 2014 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  12. BoBuckUlant

    funny... a las vegas school asking for money back.... do they do that in the casino's, as well

    June 28, 2014 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  13. Tom

    The Clintons have been liars all their lives, just ask them about all the savings and loan scandals and how and where that money got used? I can't believe this woman has the audacity to think the American people are so stupid. She has no concept of how to run this country other than to line THEIR pockets from tax payers money AGAIN. This woman will take America DOWN!!

    June 28, 2014 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  14. Rick

    Ronald Reagan once got $2 million for two speeches in Japan. And that money didn't go to any foundation.

    June 28, 2014 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  15. Anonymous

    These political appearances should be financed with ticket sales. Then there is nothing to argue about.

    June 28, 2014 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  16. Perfect

    Well, I guess they believe people should work free. Didn't you know a fee is charged for her speaking? You call yourselves an institution of higher learning.

    June 28, 2014 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  17. Anonymous

    I hope a few of these commenters realize the students didn't know about her ridiculous fee, but Nevadans elected Dingy Harry Reid, so they must expect a financial drubbing.

    June 28, 2014 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  18. $ 225,000 for a campaign speech OMG

    This country has gone mad.......

    June 28, 2014 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  19. Jacklin

    These dead beat republicans can get off this holier than thou attitude. Who did they nominate in 08 but a dummy so rich he could do without the 47% of Americans that actually work for a living and as a matter of fact don't care about no one but the 1% who are super rich any way as most of the GOP do. Besides this rhetoric doesn't change a thing any way if Mrs. Clinton runs in "16" which I hope she will there isn't a Republican who can compete so bring it on GOP.

    June 28, 2014 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  20. Jacklin

    Alan is right and Sarah Palin is dumber than a box of rocks

    June 28, 2014 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  21. 2eREP

    Well thank God that Republican's NEVER accept outrageous "Donations" or fees for their limited and or mundane "services". I guess we can rest assured that these "students" at UNLV are members of the "Young Republican's", and of course were not motivated to make this request by any Republican Political aspirants.

    June 28, 2014 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  22. Norma Vessels

    Hillary Clinton just said that when she and her husband, President Clinton, left the White House, they were stone broke. That is true. I remember that happening. They had to pay for all the lawyers during the Lawinski Congressional hearings and trials. The Clintons were blanketed with a debt of millions when they left the White House.
    I know I'm not the only one that remembers that.

    June 28, 2014 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  23. David

    The private contributor has a right to spend money as he sees fit. The fundraising was for the benefit of the school. The raise in tuition was going to happen anyway as the share of federal dollars given to schools decline. Mrs. Clinton has a right to place any value she wants on her services. Her marketability will be determined by the marketplace. If the students want to protest the tuition, they should bring that up with the school board. Same for its choice of speakers.

    June 28, 2014 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  24. Big Cigar

    Subprime Hillery.Whatta hoot.

    June 28, 2014 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  25. John

    Isn't she embarrassed taking $225,000 to speak at a university, regardless of the actual sources of funds? What can she possibly say that is worth $225,000–to anyone?

    June 28, 2014 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
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