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

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Filed under: 2016 • Hillary Clinton • Nevada
soundoff (465 Responses)
  1. mshean

    Never pay until you receive the product, or in this case the pack of lies........

    June 27, 2014 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  2. ghost

    Try as they may, throw any and everything you can at he and see what sticks. NOT! No more GOP after Ms Clinton has completed her second term as POTUS. GOP begone!!!!!

    June 27, 2014 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  3. mike

    I would certainly pay her to go away, but NEVER to speak.

    June 27, 2014 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  4. Quin

    I'm a republican and I am not gleeful that students are asking Hillary to return her speaking fee. She has earned the right to request such a fee for her appearance. They should be honored that she's taking the time to speak at their school. No, I will not be voting for her.

    June 27, 2014 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  5. J Wayne

    speaking fee would go to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation, not to the former first lady directly.All that means is a check will be cut Bill, Hillary and Chelsea after is paid to the Foundation

    June 27, 2014 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  6. colorwhirl

    What are the chances of a Clinton returning money to anyone?

    June 27, 2014 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  7. Hard Knocks

    When are these leaches going away?

    June 27, 2014 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  8. peter wolf

    She can't return it. She's 'poor', remember??

    June 27, 2014 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  9. Tom

    Hope this is the beginning of the end for Clinton. We don't need another disaster.

    June 27, 2014 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  10. Red Foreman

    While she's at it she can return all the tax-payers money she made as sec. of state also!

    June 27, 2014 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  11. Much thunder...little rain

    Hillary and everybody who.charges outrageous fees to college should pay it back and the president fired for wasting money

    June 27, 2014 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  12. elj

    $ go to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation, not to the former first lady directly.
    HHmm? Who controls that account? LOL!
    Maybe Bill can get some new cigars and Hillary can afford to buy something besides pantsuits.

    June 27, 2014 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  13. Kevin

    Why anyone would pay Hillary to make a speech when she'll be making hundreds running for president for free is mind boggling..

    June 27, 2014 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  14. Paul

    The Clinton Scandals continue... she should be speaking at Universities for FREE, for the sake of education. What a Beeach

    June 27, 2014 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  15. hank

    And who was it that said that, "Crime Does Not Pay" ????

    June 27, 2014 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  16. Sean Samuyao

    I'm not an American but an Igorot of the Cordilleras, however, my frame of mind based on facts read about Hillary's political ascension from a senator to a presidential nominee then finally to become the state's secretary says that with Hillary at the helm,world peace and harmony is preserved. How about it American voters?

    June 27, 2014 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  17. Jerry Boelens

    Why Hillary, you look like someone walked across your grave! And for what you spew, I can see why educated kids want a refund.

    June 27, 2014 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  18. John

    This is ridiculous some kids in the young Republicans club pull a little stunt, and the Daily Caller reports it as if it meant something. They must think the GOP base is pretty stupid to fall for something this obvious.

    June 27, 2014 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  19. Independent

    I thought Republicans were for capitalism.

    June 27, 2014 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  20. Gilbert

    One dollar would be to much to pay to so worthless a person as Hillary Clinton.

    June 27, 2014 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  21. Bob Smith

    Well at least she didn't go on and on about the the 47%. The press and the GOP will try to gain traction when and where they can.

    June 27, 2014 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  22. Alan Kardoff

    This is a bunch of cow crying. What about other speakers who appear there? Do you ever request their stipends be returned?

    June 27, 2014 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  23. Col B

    What can she possibly say that is worth that much money? The money went to their, how stupid do they think the American public is? Chelsea Clinton is paid millions now that her name is on the door along with Mom and Dad. One of the news channels recently agreed to pay Chelsea Clinton $600,000 a year to be a commentator. What expertise does she bring to the discussion?

    June 27, 2014 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  24. CTYankee

    $225,000 for speaking fee ? !!!! How much is tuition today ?? Good for the students for standing up for what's right !!!!

    June 27, 2014 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  25. Randal Phillips

    So the money from her fees go to the Clinton Foundation. Anyone wanna bet on who's on the Clinton Foundation payroll?

    June 27, 2014 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
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