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. expogirl11

    So they are against Hilary speaking at the UNLV. If he money is not coming from the University, but from a private donor WHAT THE PROBLEM? That donation does not have anything to do with tuition to the University. And if the money does not go to her but to the foundation WHAT THE PROBLEM? Stop being petty.

    June 27, 2014 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  2. landslide

    Give the money back? She can't. She's dead broke, remember?

    June 27, 2014 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  3. Prince

    Republicans are just haters. They are 95% of this country's problem. Very divisive people!

    June 27, 2014 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  4. gunnyginalaska

    HAHA! Like that greedy liberal hag would do that!

    June 27, 2014 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  5. Edmond Dantês


    June 27, 2014 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  6. Clara Thomas

    Seems that people are wising up. Not only should the speaking fee be returned, but this war criminal should be sent to The Hague, as soon as possible.

    June 27, 2014 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  7. melissa

    collecting a fee for a speech at a fund raiser?????an oxymoron if I ever heard of one. Yes, return the money and funded a scholarship or two or three. whata putz.

    June 27, 2014 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  8. Andrew

    So Private Donors paid for her to come speak and you blame her for your tuition hike... Why don't you ask your state Government for a more efficient education system.

    June 27, 2014 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  9. Robert Jones

    I would not give 2cents to hear Hillary Cliton speak. Even if she gave me back change. Why would anyone in their right mind pay to hear a LIAR speak? Yet there are some that will. A fool is a fool is a fool!

    June 27, 2014 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  10. B Ell

    I wouldn't go across the street from my house, to see her, if it was free.

    June 27, 2014 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  11. redmanrt

    "Clinton, a likely 2016 presidential candidate"

    The HIllary thing will bow out the moment Scott Walker announces.

    June 27, 2014 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  12. Anonymous

    Hillary Clinton on wealth missteps: 'My record speaks for itself'; It sure does and is not pretty or morally, or legally right.

    June 27, 2014 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  13. Zippy

    All Politicians are snake oil salesman. Hillary is just another "I'll say whatever makes you happy" type of politico...not a person who can be trusted to tell the truth.

    June 27, 2014 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  14. JJ Gildersneeze

    I thought Republicans believed in free enterprise?

    June 27, 2014 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  15. michael barnes

    "Hillary Clinton’s speaking fee at UNLV is more than 4 times what the average Nevadan makes in a year,"

    here is the real question.... how does her fee compare to other high profile speakers at similar commitments ?

    next question... who pockets the money those other speakers receive ?

    These institutions are going to pay somebody.... and Hillary Clinton should be expected to do it for free ? I'd see that happen a lot sooner than any member of congress or senate would match that humanitarian gesture.

    June 27, 2014 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  16. Richard Staas

    Does this sound like donation money laundering to anyone else?

    June 27, 2014 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  17. Shelly Conley

    Hillary Clinton is out of touch with the middle class Americans. Her fees, no matter where the funds originate, are outrageous. How can she begin to know the plight of the hard working tax paying citizenry.

    June 27, 2014 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  18. Klare

    Good for the UNLV students! Glad to see they have gumption and values! I SOOOOOO DO NOT WANT HILLARY CLINTON FOR PRESIDENT! I WOULD NOT TRUST HER FARTHER THAN I COULD THROW HER (which would be about 6 feet, probably :-)). She will lie to us and have us at war with the Middle East before we can blink! Clinton thinks she is such a tough cookie. I think she is just one more seriously jaded politician, looking to find herself in "Who's Who of the Most Famous People in American History" book. No, no, no, no, no! We do not need Hillary Clinton as president! Never, never, never, never, never! She is NOT entitled to that role, as she thinks she is! We need FRESH, NEW FACES, IDEAS AND PARADIGMS IN WASHINGTON–THE SOONER THE BETTER FOR THIS NATION AND THE PEOPLE OF THE WORLD!

    June 27, 2014 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  19. Audrey Barberi

    About time students started paying attention to what is being said and what is really going on.

    June 27, 2014 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  20. pops

    hiltard just needs to go away. hubby already brought disgrace to the office and country. give it up

    June 27, 2014 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  21. Daniel6

    Who is shocked by this?? The Clintons are Broke-didn't you hear??

    June 27, 2014 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  22. JAYCEE

    The Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation sounds pretty much like the family checking account.
    Is this the same fund that Slick Willie dips into to get "dry cleaning" done ?

    June 27, 2014 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  23. ConwayTweeter

    Well the way Nevada tossed a shoe at Hillary last time she was in town, I'd take their request to return their moola as serious or wear armor if she goes back in to Nevada.

    June 27, 2014 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  24. jorod

    They should have thought of this before asking her to speak. The people voting for Harry Reid deserve everything they get.

    June 27, 2014 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  25. drsheilahere

    Oh, Hillary, when you can't depend on the young vote to push through a "She's a Woman" let's elect her to president, who will carry you forward? Sorry but your star has descended. In the past, the press would NEVER publish a poll against you. Time to move on. They are now willing to go after you. How does it feel? Go be a grandma; sorry about your speaking engagements.

    June 27, 2014 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
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