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.

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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. Bill

    Would there be such an uproar if the speaker were a rock star, a movie star, a sports personality? I wonder where that money would go. A charity or a new Escalade? Speaking fees have been around for years. Would there be such an uproar if this were a man? To single out an individual because you may not agree with her political views is the height of hypocrisy. Find me ONE political figure that does not charge a fee for a like event.

    June 28, 2014 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  2. don in albuquerque

    Your posts are hilarious. First your not going to vote for president this time, then your saying if you don't like her fee don't ask her, then your saying political appearances should be financed with ticket sales, and then your blaming it all on Harry Reid!!!! Are you confused? Much. And by the way......please do stay home on election day.

    June 28, 2014 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  3. David

    I don't believe I'd be embarrassed to charge that much for one of my speeches. If anyone is fool enough to pay me that much, that reflects more on them then me.

    June 28, 2014 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  4. jabbers

    This is amazing. Bill and Hillary Clinton are two of the greediest two-faced people on the planet, yet some of you people are still making excuses for their bad behavior. It all started with old Bill's tenure as president, and continues to this very day. And some of you still don't know why this country is so screwed up. The Clinton family has always been takers, never givers. Soulfire.. It's not so much about them being wealthy, as it is about "how" they became wealthy. Romney may have come from a wealthy family but he still worked for his, the Clinton don't know what the word work means. Remember they were dead broke when they left the White House.

    June 28, 2014 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  5. Curtis Gwin Jr

    Hhmmmm how soon they forget! Seems like just yesterday that the reptiles were running a multi $?-aire candidate. Who had his money buried so far offshore that maybe even he didn't know how much he was worth ? Notice how they carefully avoid mentioning Boehner's keeping his job with $17 mill in donationsour money not his) to various parts of the RNC and it's candidates. Or the huge fee's s. palin made talking about nothing except how to make herself a multi millionaire on OPM without any skills or talent ! So puhleez!

    June 28, 2014 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  6. Ron

    Republicans are all about people getting their money, unless that person is a Democrat. Would they have issue if Mitt Romney were the guest speaker?

    June 28, 2014 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  7. Pay Her What She is Worth

    Minimum wage. It'll be a flippin' CAMPAIGN SPEECH so why should anybody pay anything? This all sounds like a scam to funnel large sums of money to the rich and powerful. Public schools, no matter what the source of the funds, should be paying this kind of money for a speech. Poor, poor Hillary & Bill should be doing this one for free.

    June 28, 2014 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  8. sandyc

    I honestly have a problem with any speaker, Bill, Hillary, Barak, John Doe, commanding $225,000 to speak at any function. For how long? What 15 minutes? 20? 30? 60? At a 60 minute speech, she is earning $3,750.00 per MINUTE of her time.

    Nobody is worth that.

    June 28, 2014 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  9. don in albuquerque

    And of what real benefit to the world are NFL players, yet they make millions a year, what do they do that is worth that much. Entertainment is entertainment, whether it is Hillary or the Miami Dolphins, or any rock star, its all entertainment and we are silly enough to pay huge bucks to be entertained. Whether it exists to make you laugh, cry, scream, shout, paint your face funny colors, or enlighten, it is all still what we do to burn away the hours between birth and death. Its all entertainment and its all part and parcel of capitalism. Take all you can while you can. Personally I think the GOTP is very entertaining.....don't want them to govern because they don't know how, but they do know how to sell popcorn.

    June 28, 2014 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  10. jaik

    Another baseless corporate media attack, they make their money from creating false controversy:

    "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."

    June 28, 2014 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  11. John

    Electing Hillary would be like electing obama again….. Stay at home Hillary

    June 28, 2014 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  12. RonS

    @Ron..Romney earned $374k speaking in a year. Hillary get $250k per speech. Is she that interesting or are Democrats just pumping her up? She is a greedy carpet bagger.

    June 28, 2014 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  13. Chris

    This is my alma mater and I am embarrassed on all fronts, for starters the students have some gall asking Hillary to give it back. Some may not like her, nor would they vote for her but she charges what she charges and if private donors want to pay her that's fine. That being said in the last 10 years UNLV has raised their tuition a dozen times and it has nearly tripled the cost of attending a mostly commuter college geared towards Las Vegans. Most people outside of Las Vegas do not realize that most people here are squarely middle class and have to debt themselves with student loans to attend a state school that does not rank up with it's sister school in Reno academically or atmosphere. Nevada has one of the lowest rates of college graduates and raising the cost of tuition does little to help that. I have no problem with Hillary getting paid where I take issue is with the students embarrassing this university that will forever be a major part of my life and the university for embarrassing themselves with their constant raising of the the tuition. They had no problem finding donors to get Hillary, why do they seem to have an issue fundraising to help make getting a university education in Southern Nevada more affordable.

    June 28, 2014 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  14. charlie dance

    They should pay her to shut up.

    June 28, 2014 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  15. Richard

    When Bill and Hilary left the White House (by the Trashed) the bought a mansion and built a home for the Secret Service to stay so they would not have to travel back and forth. Seem nice? The charge the government (US citizens) for rent of that home. The Clintons are money hungry and power mongers.

    June 28, 2014 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  16. pinochled

    UNLV's student government has a beef with UNLV, not Clinton.

    June 28, 2014 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  17. Vrede's Mother

    Vrede'y, it's your Mumsie. Why do you feel you are here to control the narrative? You can’t even control your need for snacks, my fire ant mound of understanding. You see there are other people in the world, you narcissistic walking water bed. Sorry, Poopsie, you tend to be an aiirz. Regarding logic; if you bought 5 oranges in Mexico and ate 2 on the way to San Diego, how many would you have in the end? None, they'd be taken at the border. Signed Mom.

    June 28, 2014 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  18. pinochled

    UNLV student government's beef is with UNLV, not Clinton.

    June 28, 2014 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  19. Curatica

    A kitchen maid (and greedy crook, apparently) turned into political prima donna, and loads of fools who pay her exorbitant sums just to hear her boring platitudes. Voltaire said that every nation has the rulers it deserves.

    June 28, 2014 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  20. yaelbelle

    This is a stupid and manufactured issue.
    Don't have her if you don't want to pay.
    Look at whom you have paid what in the past.
    This is a bunch of worked up kids with no real life experience trying to politicize something to garner attention because it is perceived as a hot button currently.
    Wonder how much more their fundraiser will raise with her as speaker?

    June 28, 2014 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  21. robert

    And you say she won't receive the money directly? But it will go to the Bill, Hitlary and Chelsea foundation you say? Well Shazam! My paycheck as well as my wifes' paycheck goes to the robert, denise and junior foundation! Ain't that a coweenky-deenk?

    June 28, 2014 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    The only thing "DEAD BROKE" here is the ability for any Clinton to tell the truth.

    June 28, 2014 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  23. don in albuquerque

    Oh give me a break. Romney inherited, anybody can make money if they have money and you don't have to be smart to do it. Like a man told me once, "i'm not really smart but I am smart enough to hire people who are loyal and smarter then me. And then I hire people smarter then them to watch 'em". From everything MittWitt said during his campaign he is about on the same par with Paris Hilton.

    June 28, 2014 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  24. Jim

    Hillary will give half off on signed books, after all she is only worth 100 million. She's just one of us!

    June 28, 2014 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  25. Lynda

    As always, the hypocrisy in political circles is amazing. The first speaking engagement Ronald Reagan had after leaving office was in China - for a $1 million fee.

    June 28, 2014 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
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