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. Vincent King

    Michelle calls her 'the Hilldabeast'

    June 29, 2014 02:44 am at 2:44 am |
  2. Alexis Morgan

    Ron: Romney didn't take a salary for the entire length of his governorship.

    I can't recall a single time when the Clinton's didn't take a dime.

    June 29, 2014 03:00 am at 3:00 am |
  3. John

    These exorbitant speaking fees are one way to dodge limits on campaign donations. So are sales of books that are the product of ghost writers.

    June 29, 2014 05:44 am at 5:44 am |
  4. Trade5foraDeserter

    I love it how Hillarymaniacs are totally missing the point that Hillary tried to paint herself as a "common person" by stating she was "flat broke" after leaving the White House.
    Truth: She wasn't

    The public is beginning to seeing Hillary for what she truly is, a political chameleon who untruthfully changes color for political gain. Just ask the poor NPR reporter that Hillary blasted after calling her out on her gay marriage flip/flop. How about her "I wouldn't have done it"-jab at Obama's 5-Terrorists-for-1-Deserter Deal, that she shortly reversed and supported.

    June 29, 2014 05:50 am at 5:50 am |
  5. The don

    Democrat hypocrites.......I'm mainly referring to the lib trolls on this site.

    June 29, 2014 07:31 am at 7:31 am |
  6. Edward

    Just curious. Does Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea draw a salary from the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Foundation? I would be willing to bet that yes they do.

    June 29, 2014 07:41 am at 7:41 am |
  7. Anonymous

    "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."

    A "gift" to "attract" people like her?

    They got that part right.

    You know. If she were all that concerned about her message then she might consider going for free.

    But to "attract people like Hillary Clinton" you have to give a bit to sweeting the pot yes?

    June 29, 2014 07:51 am at 7:51 am |
  8. harrry

    It's bad when republicans have money. But it's good when democrats have money. It's bad when Bush did it, but it's Good when Obama does it and far worse. Just listen to yourselves.

    June 29, 2014 08:05 am at 8:05 am |
  9. J. Foster

    Would you rather have had a rock star, movie star, or athlete collect that money? Ms Clinton is a commodity and time is money. Pay up and shut up.

    June 29, 2014 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  10. Anonymous

    Leave it to the Republicans to sit back and whine about things that they themselves do.

    June 29, 2014 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  11. Anonymous

    She is a miserable human being, and I can't believe anyone would vote for her.. The last time her husband was
    president and again while she was the worst secretary of state in history, you would have thought they were trying
    to get the most frequent flyer miles. They were NEVER here because they (and she) visited every country in the world
    on our dollar.I would love to know just what theirs and her travel expenses were while in office. He didn't accomplish much
    except his sexual encounters in OUR WHITE HOUSE. He was only a tenant there – talk about lowlife, and her Benghazi
    lack of response to the pleas of those men begging for help was appalling. She should be in jail.

    June 29, 2014 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  12. Barry

    If someone is stupid enough to pay her that much, or any, money for a speach that will say nothing....Good for her. And I really do not like her. As a student at this school I would look at this and the 17% RAISE in tuition and decide that I need to go to a different school that is not going to ROB me.

    June 29, 2014 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  13. Tell the Truth

    Appears the University of Nevada is conducting a fund-raiser for Hillary Rotten Clinton's unannounced presidential campaign.

    June 29, 2014 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  14. Anonymous

    here's a thought,let her PAY them to speak to the school

    June 29, 2014 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  15. boo radley

    There is an incredible amount of disconnect in this story. First, any public figure, rock star or athlete is worth whatever someone is willing to pay. Second, Where the money came from or would go back to would not lower any student's tuition. Third, the Clintons were 11 million in debt when they left office from legal fees relating to Bill's philandering (no tears here). So they were technically dead broke but still had incredible earning potential. The most disturbing disconnect here is that although she is highly intelligent she does not appear to have a clue about the reality of life for most of us and has passed it on to her daughter. Her privileged upbringing insulated her from the hard choices and challenges we all face that build and forge our character. This is why she comes off as aloof. If she chooses to run. Her inability to connect with the American people will doom her presidential aspirations once again.

    June 29, 2014 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  16. Dale

    @Bill, If I were a student going their, and my tuition went up 17%, After spending 225,000 for a politician to come speak, I would be upset too. Maybe she could get her Bilderberg friends, or the Counsel on Foreign Relations. to help her live her elitist life style .

    June 29, 2014 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  17. Miki Haas

    Who in their right mind would want such a liar and narcissist to speak at their university to begin with. She should be paying others to allow her to schedule a speaking event. Only dumb women (not all women) would vote for Hillary is she ran for president.

    June 29, 2014 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  18. Chris

    Notice how all of the fees were not paid to either Bill or Hillary directly, but to the "foundation", which I am sure is set up as a non-profit and therefore will not pay taxes on any money that comes in. This is nothing more than a Clinton slush fund with highly beneficial tax shelters..... How the Clinton apologists keep selling and promoting these two scheisters is beyond me and quite frankly embarrassing for our country.

    June 29, 2014 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  19. Cdub

    The school knew before hand. This is a political tactic and they are using the students for political means. It is sickening from ALL sides.

    June 29, 2014 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  20. EldRick

    Why should she get paid for campaign speeches at all? Ever?

    June 29, 2014 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  21. LeoC

    Face it. Democrats are just as bad as tea baggers in their worship of 1%ers.

    June 29, 2014 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  22. Joe Webber

    Fool me once, shame on you, Fool me twice SHAME on ME! I believe the American people are finally waking up to what a bunch of con artists the Clintons are.

    June 29, 2014 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  23. marton

    GREEDY STUDENTS! Don't they realize the Clinton's are DESTITUTE! It's all over the news!!

    June 29, 2014 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  24. Bigdog

    Hillary is broke and needs the money she is down to her last three mansions and is struggling to make ends meet

    June 29, 2014 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  25. SpenceM

    Amazing that even a left wing University would spend that much of the student's money to hear the wife of an impeached former President speak??

    June 29, 2014 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
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