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. 2bad4them

    Give the POOR girl a break. Bwahhahah!

    June 27, 2014 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  2. Dany

    Why should she return the money. She deserves her money. The amount of crap that lady takes from people judging her is unbelievable.

    She deserves to be paid for the assignment they contracted with her. University or not she is doing a job. She speaks to attract further funding for whatever they are looking for and I am sure it will be a whole lot more than her fee.

    Those students are young, impressionable and unworldly. They haven't a clue.

    Pay Hillary her fee

    June 27, 2014 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  3. Michael

    Yeah the Bill and Hillary foundation is rotten to the core....the republicans should have no problem tearing into this story since they invented the sham foundation scam in the first instance.

    June 27, 2014 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  4. dana

    If the U of N was stupid enough to book her, it is stupid enough to suffer there choice...

    June 27, 2014 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  5. Gary Lenderman

    Michelle for President in 2016

    June 27, 2014 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  6. Randy

    Clinton is an idiot, plain and simple. As for the University raising tuition by 17%, I wonder on what ground they have to stand pushing it up that high? Then again, it is the state represented by Harry Reid.

    June 27, 2014 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  7. Gary

    Anyone who thinks she will return the speaking "fee" doesn't understand how a Clinton works (or doesn't work!)

    June 27, 2014 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  8. Richie

    Return money......, very funny!

    June 27, 2014 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  9. Tony

    If they knew about the charge ahead of time, they should have to pay it. If they don't the engagement should be canceled, I'm sure someone else will be willing to pay it. They should feel privelaged that a future president agreed to speak there.

    June 27, 2014 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  10. jimbo

    There's only so much propaganda that the general public is willing to buy into, and the Zionists are going to need a lot more magic to convince society that Hillary is fit for presidential selection given the general amount this reptile is detested.

    June 27, 2014 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  11. Y S

    I am supporting the students. Also, with the way she prosecuted the rapist of a young gril in Miami years ago when she worked in the DA's office, it shows she has no character. It's all for herself, fame and money. Who needs a public figure like that.

    June 27, 2014 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  12. Iain Dymock

    She was paid, HOW MUCH !!!!!!!!!. Have these people got rocks in their head or are they just stupid or they don't care how much they pay because it's not their money. TOTALLY ridiculous.

    June 27, 2014 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  13. carlee44

    Instead of paying her that money the university should use it to pay their high tuition raise.She is not worth any amount of money, shouldnt even charge schools. but she is such a story teller(liar) what will the kids come away with?

    June 27, 2014 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  14. John Mudd

    I think the "system" is completely wrong!! The speakers such as Hillary should have to pay to speak at a University, after all it is just a big publicity stunt and she is being paid to advertise herself!!

    June 27, 2014 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  15. Larry McNell

    $225,000 of utter non-sense.

    June 27, 2014 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  16. cootersdad

    she don't have enough money to pay me to listen to her.

    June 27, 2014 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  17. Fredric S. Firehammer

    Well, we clearly know she is into politics for the money rather than her generous service. Give the money back Hillary. Don't you have enough already?!

    June 27, 2014 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  18. Dan

    Look, all we have to do is let her talk. She doesn't need a challenger, she's destroying herself. One thing she's learned. What all career criminal learn. When we (cops) catch you lying, stick with it. If you change your story, you're toast. "That's my story and I'm sticking with it"

    June 27, 2014 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  19. ELD

    The Dems and Repubs are the same in my book. They all enter "service" to get rich by getting into bed with big business– They should donate their millions to charity! Bunch of hypocrites and unAmericans! ALL OF THEM!!

    June 27, 2014 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  20. rf y

    This is outrageous, how can a person representing the Party of the poor, the down on their luck, the disenfranchised, the foreign minorities, generally folks making 20K a year, would even consider voting for a rich woman that gets 15-20 times what they make in a year in just a few mintes. How doe Bengazhi Hillary feel about having so much money while her constituents suffer?.

    June 27, 2014 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  21. Ejay

    If she makes the speech, she gets paid as per agreement. Leave it to Tea Baggers to want to get something for nothing. They are just upset because she gets paid more than both Dumbya Bush, and Loser McDaniel, combined....for the same work. Maybe the GOP-Tea Bagger crowd should get off their butts, and PASS some Equal Pay laws, eh? Hahahaha!

    June 27, 2014 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  22. Randy, San Francisco

    Much to do about nothing...more power to Hillary if audiences are willing to pay handsomely for her speech appearances. Only small minds and hearts begrudge her of earning large speaking fees like so many others who have left public service. Hillary will win in 2016!

    June 27, 2014 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  23. dan

    America needs to move forward! We need a leader in the White house, not another compulsive liar. This do nothing, with her impeached husband running around with his pants down, needs to go away!! Please America, Let's take back what we fought and died for and get rid of the career politicians! A lady president would be great, but not this one!!! She couldn't even controll her husbands pants going down or manage money! What makes you think she can controll the greatest Nation in the world?? Wake up and let's find a real presidential candidate, !!!

    June 27, 2014 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  24. SCOTT

    Thank god we poor working class folks have the good people at the GOP looking out for us.....and lord knows they always speak for free.

    June 27, 2014 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  25. Carly

    Students are calling for Hillary to return her speaking fee of $225,000 to the university?? GOOD LUCK WITH THAT !!! For a Clinton to return money is UNHEARD OF. Remember Hillary's cattle trading scam? She turned a tiny investment into over $100,000 in profits in a few days. That is an unheard of amount of profits. Remember all the missing china and other valuables from the White House when the Clinton's left the White House?? Remember White Water?? Hillie and Billie are about money and power.... MONEY AND POWER. I said: M O N E Y AND P O W E R.. That's all folks.

    June 27, 2014 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
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