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. aicohn

    Maybe Hillary can tell the students how they can go to work for the state department, "misplace" $6 billion while there (per inspector general), get a US ambassador killed and then use those "credentials" for a presidential run? That one might be worth $225K to hear about...

    June 28, 2014 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  2. David

    With all the lies the Clinton's have made over the years, from Bill's lie under oath " I did not have sex with that woman ", all the way to Hillary's lies about Benghazi and the deaths, as well as the fact that when they left the white house, they (Bill and Hillary) were broke (reported researched, the day they left the white house, they had a little over $50 Million in the bank), to the fact that their wealth is so low, and in line with the average American. I don't believe a word the Clinton's have to say. Even their daughter got a job, and is overpaid, just because of who she is, she does not have the skills, or the experience to warrant the salary she is receiving.

    June 28, 2014 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  3. terry

    It is so crazy how you people defend your so called party ,knowing that everyone of these politicians are in it for
    their personal gain! None of them answer to anyone about how much money they spend. They get on jets provided
    by taxpayers and use taxpayer security. Maybe since we, the taxpayer, pay for all that. We could get in free or they
    could just swing by and pick us up in that big fine jet or limo!!! The politicians complain about each other and blame
    the other PARTY! Wake up American citizens you are doing the same thing! We need someone who can manage
    this country like the huge business that it is!

    June 28, 2014 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  4. HESpecialist

    Just what the hell could this woman say to anyone that is worth $ 225,000.00? How to look the other way while your husband gets a BJ in the Oval Office? Or, how NOT to answer the phone at 3:00 AM when "that call" comes in?

    She's a bag of slime and not worth $ .225 to listen to.

    June 28, 2014 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  5. Phyto

    Actually I suggested that Condi Rice do exactly that – donate her $150K speaking fee to student use – even if were at Stanford – when she spoke at the University of Minnesota. I think pols of all types should speak at academic venues only to enlighten and not for profit – if they want to charge, then use the funds for real good. Condi pocketed the money, just in case you wondered.

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

    Donate the money to a fund to payoff some of these liberal's, who make a living out of going to college, unpaid college tuition fees.

    June 28, 2014 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  7. Tom l

    And the gang complains about Romney dodging taxes. Too funny

    June 28, 2014 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |

    Really can't wait to see Thad Cocran,Kevin McCarthy,Thom Tillis,Sheldon Adelson,Rupert Mourdoch,Karl Rove,Lindsey Graham,John McCain,Hayley Barbour,Grover Norquist and the GOP stuff Jeb Bush down the tea party's throats EXACTLY like they stuffed Romney down. Straight no chaser. Hillary will drink to that.

    June 28, 2014 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  9. MB

    Oh please. Do any of you work for free? And am I supposed to believe that republican speakers don't get paid? Didn't I recently read where republicans gathered at tremendous expense for an opportunity to kiss the rings of the Koch brothers? If you don't like what she is being paid, there is a simple solution. DON'T BUY A TICKET AND DON'T GO.

    June 28, 2014 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  10. nobs3

    I'm fairly certain that both sides do it. Regardless, I'm totally opposed to paying politicians to speak at in venues at "public" institutions such as schools and colleges. First of all, even if no tuition dollars or state funds are used for paying the speaker, there are other costs to consider (lights, heat or AC, security, etc., and even the building itself). The building was built with public money, and those other costs are likely at least partly covered with state or local funding.
    But my two main reasons for opposing paying political speakers at schools and colleges are as follows.
    I do not believe that students should be subjected to political speakers in their own learning environments because having one candidate (or potential candidate) speak without also inviting a like candidate with an opposite political viewpoint, implies (to the students) that their "authority figures" (teachers, professors, etc.) support the views of the speaker. Thus, a person paying the speaker's fees can heavily influence the thinking of the students.
    Second, This could easily be used to circumvent campaign financing laws. The person paying for the speaker - indirectly, through a "donation to the university" for example - is actually paying a huge (and illegal) sum to the candidate.

    June 28, 2014 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  11. John Lieto

    Ron – evan as a Republican who knows Hillary would be a bigger disaster than our current President, I applaud Hillary's ability to command such a fee, and think the students are naive and childish, which is exactly how Democrats are and want them to be.

    June 28, 2014 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  12. Cherunda

    ooooooh, awkward.

    June 28, 2014 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  13. Libagger

    Just another old-rich-white Democrat

    June 28, 2014 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    Don't hold your breath waiting for the refund...She never gave the stuff back that she ripped off when she and Slick moved out of the White House.

    June 28, 2014 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  15. virginia

    waw, waw, waw want some cheese with this know I am a registered Democrat, but i have voted split tickets many times because i thought another candidate was the better...From now on, I will be voting a straight Dem ticket, sick to death of the Republicans who have become "ME" all about me ppl..

    June 28, 2014 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  16. Bruce

    Soooo...if this was Donald Trump or Dick Cheney it would be capitalism at it's finest. Being Hillary, of course it's the rankest form of personal greed. So it goes.

    June 28, 2014 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  17. onestarman

    I blame the Media. Do you remember all the FAKE outrage over Obama's 'He didn't make that' comment? The media as well as the people acting outraged knew perfectly well that they were using a partial quote taken out of context. That the President had been referring to the required INFRASTRUCTURE that Businesses depend upon but did not build – but instead of CORRECTING the misrepresentation – they kept REPEATING the false claim that Obama was saying people did not build their own businesses – because in doing so they got more interest and therefore made more MONEY.

    June 28, 2014 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  18. Frank C

    Why would a politician who is supported by taxpayers, or any public servant require a fee to speak at any college graduation? She is a typical spoiled lifetime politician who thinks that she is entitled to money that is endowed to a university by alumni for the intentions of education. How selfish! She will never get my vote.

    June 28, 2014 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  19. kris littlefield

    What makes you think Mitt Romney would ask for a fee?

    June 28, 2014 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  20. M

    Memo to UNLV students: try cracking a book and stop listening to Republican idiots.

    June 28, 2014 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  21. Ben

    I'd like to see some kind of proof that no schools funds are being use for a campaign fund raising speech on campus, not just someone's statement. I understand that Hillary is poor and one strong breeze from being homeless in several of her homes but we're talking a lot of money and it's being use to promote her campaign.

    June 28, 2014 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  22. Tao

    With this fee, Hilary is still dead broke... stop criticizing her...

    June 28, 2014 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  23. Franko K.

    Someone should interview Juanita Broaddrick again about the beetchy confrontation. Search:
    Bet no records of Juanita Broaddrick are in billie's library. Most of the senators who voted not to impeach wild Bill did not read the rape evidence –
    search: "Full Transcript of NBC Dateline report on Juanita Broaddrick"
    NBC put it on TV after the impeachment vote.

    June 28, 2014 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  24. R young

    Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation, not to the former first lady directly. This is exactly how rich people hide money in plane site.

    June 28, 2014 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  25. mardi

    Just goes to show you that the this generation of students are as whiny as ever. If a speaker hasn't even spoken yet, just cancel their appearance. Idiots.

    June 28, 2014 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
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