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. Beverly

    Why should any current or former politicians be paid to make yet another essentially boring speech? These funds would be much better spent on lowering tuition and or book costs. The Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation? Yeah, that makes it every so much better. They have so much money they can run a foundation but they're "broke?" Spoken like a true career politician. LIES.

    June 27, 2014 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  2. Antagonisteer

    Sure Im a Democrat who cares about the poor and in equality but you have to pay me $225,000 for my appearence though I care about you very much after all when you graduate there will be ready jobs at Walmart in the department of paper or plastic.

    June 27, 2014 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  3. moe

    you better watch out children when the Clintons finances are threatened someone always ends up dead, whitewater......... just saying....

    June 27, 2014 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  4. bobby harris

    the woman could not tell the truth about the time of day.let alone anything else.

    June 27, 2014 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  5. CeeCee

    As corrupt and crooked as they come.

    June 27, 2014 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  6. red ryder

    Poor Hillary. It looks like she has her foot in her mouth. Poor poor little victim again. She uses her husband (great feminist) to get where she's at, she has her man, Bill, go out and defend her. I guess poor little Hillary can't take care of herself. Quite a feminist icon.

    June 27, 2014 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  7. Gig

    I will donate a dollar for her to not speak.

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

    I guess I do not understand the whole speech thing where the speaker gets so much money for saying a few words. This not only references Hilary but all similar speakers. It should be a privilege to speak at a university with only the cost of travel, meals and lodging covered.

    June 27, 2014 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  9. Randel Garrett

    Why should any College or University pay a paid public official for giving a speech? They are suppose to work for Us We paid for them to serve Us Next even if charged they will be asking for money to be on the witness stand.

    June 27, 2014 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  10. ed c.

    Good luck with that NU students, the wicked witch of the east will not return anything that she has her claws on!

    June 27, 2014 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  11. Lilly skywalker

    I am sure that the Republicans were not the only ones turned off on her Dead Broke comment! The Clintons are overrated. Her book sales speak volumes. Hildabeest is not going to be our first female President!

    June 27, 2014 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  12. morsekeely

    What the GOP fails to realize is that a majority of this nation realizes that we owe Hillary the presidency for her years of dutiful service.

    June 27, 2014 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  13. abobinmn

    Both Clintons are extremely greedy opportunists. It's great that the kids at UNLV are sticking it to Hillary Clinton

    June 27, 2014 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  14. morsekeely

    What the GOP fails to realize is that the majority of the country knows that Hillary is owed the presidency for all of her years of service to her country and party.

    June 27, 2014 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  15. virginia

    Don't believe ANYTHING you read , and only Half of what you seee .

    June 27, 2014 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  16. art

    i guess she see nothing wrong with collecting more in a short speech then the president makes in a year... Or more than most people make in 10 years of working

    June 27, 2014 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  17. Randy

    What in the world would she say that is worth 225000 dollars,please wake up people don't give your hard earned money to this lying hack!!!

    June 27, 2014 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  18. mustang6984

    Uh Oh...Harry seems to be unable to control his peasants back home. They seem to be realizing that his friend Billary is almost as much hot air and empty head as Harry is.

    Book sales are not going well for Billary...and every time she opens her pie-hole she shoves one or both of her feet a little deeper down her throat.

    Smart kids...and they're right...that's WAY too much money to pay someone looking to sell and "make" money off of said sales. Wish I could get paid just for showing up for work, before I even did any work.

    June 27, 2014 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  19. felipe fernandez

    What a rude action! Dont these kids know the situation she is going through?

    June 27, 2014 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  20. floyd

    This Communist Dem. will not make it as President. ( WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE. ) She is a known LIER. People really mean nothing to her. She is a do nothing. This DEM> war vet. will not vote for her.

    June 27, 2014 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  21. codebreaker 714

    It is only fair that Hillary Clinton should return the $225,000 fee she will be paid for a fundraiser in October by the University of Nevada – Las Vegas. Lying about her wealth and steep speaking fees is no way to address the student body. It seems like every time Hillary speaks in public, she winds up sticking her foot in her mouth. No university in the nation should want Hillary Clinton speaking at any school function.

    June 27, 2014 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  22. alex becker

    "Hillary's speaking fee is four times as much as the average Nevadan makes" the article cites. A CEO makes about 100 times as much as the average Nevadan. Where is the outcry? Further, the fee is put up by private donations and not the University. Why would the students care? I respect the Clintons for them trying years ago to get a national health insurance
    system going. They did not have to do that; they have enough money to pay for their doctors. I just hope that she'll run for office and win. With her the country will finally get a comprehensive national health care system which every American deserves.

    June 27, 2014 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  23. James Andrews

    Why in God's name would anybody want to pay this traitor to speak at any function what so ever?

    June 27, 2014 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  24. kermit dupre

    You University folks just don't understand Clinton logic, when she says poor she doesn't mean money she means integrity poor. When Bill said he didn't have sex with that woman, he meant the woman with the blue stain dress, the one Hillary wears.

    June 27, 2014 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  25. jkl

    How will poor old Hillary manage ? She and Slick Willy are so poor, they have had to pay for their ASSETTS to be covered in such a way as to be EXEMPT form Inheritance Taxes. A Tax Move both She and The former Liar-in-Chief both railed against as being something the 1%ers did to avoid "paying their FAIR SHARE". Funny how they have forgotten what they were saying just a few years ago. But then, maybe not; since neither of them is apparently capable of telling the truth.

    June 27, 2014 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
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