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. max slugger

    Do you really think Hillary is going to give the money back? Haven't you heard – She's poor. LOL

    June 27, 2014 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  2. Giannis Lambadarios

    ..And she was trying to appear so common, talking about struggling, and being she not only has the hutzpah to charge $300,000.00 to hear her whine, and drone on, she also has the money go to the family foundation, assuring it's not taxed..Boy, Oh, Boy..a true Politician, corrupt to the core. People are struggling becoming homeless, and she wants $300,000.00 to talk to us, and she wants it all tax free...If she was president it would be the same..The highest bidder/offer, would get her attention, and help, not the common citizen.

    June 28, 2014 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  3. Arnold P.

    Let's say UNLV wanted to make a big contribution to a notorious leftie's campaign, and they did.

    June 28, 2014 12:12 am at 12:12 am |
  4. sartaj hussain

    she will lead the 2016 US presidential election these hurdles can not stop her

    June 28, 2014 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  5. Denise

    Please don't take this poor woman's speaking fee away, she may need it for food.

    June 28, 2014 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  6. Tim Leeke

    That Old Liberal Strumpet of the Politic, including her husband have had their proboscis in the public trough for quite some time. As master manipulators of the politic their machinations and skullduggery are infamous–from the death of Vincent Foster to Monica Lewinsky. Quite frankly, I detect in that lady a mean streak of wicked proportions. What could her or even Bill say to draw any interest–intellectual or otherwise?

    June 28, 2014 12:20 am at 12:20 am |
  7. Tim Leeke

    My comment is awaiting moderation. I can only presume that the political leanings of CNN must be met, or I will be censored by the thought police of CNN. Comforting thought. Oh the prices we pay for freedom of speech, and our desire to not offend anyone especially of color.

    June 28, 2014 12:25 am at 12:25 am |
  8. marcello

    should you disagree with her fee, then Mr.Waqar, please respectfully and gracefully invite another speaker from the get's a free country yea?

    June 28, 2014 12:25 am at 12:25 am |
  9. Robert Yarbrough II

    I would like to say to the news person reporting the news for CNN that I have been observing them for five years, and you try to hard to put your personal views into the way you report the news, this is what I'm saying, you use the 3 levels of discrimination , when you deliver the news to the public. I can prove it to you.

    June 28, 2014 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
  10. Roger

    Whitewater. Travelgate. Benghazi. No significant accomplishments as SOS.
    A lot of people would like the beatch to return money she took illegally or didn't earn.

    June 28, 2014 12:29 am at 12:29 am |
  11. Bill

    She belongs in prison. WAKE UP

    June 28, 2014 12:32 am at 12:32 am |
  12. shirley evans

    You mean to say that Hillary is charging students to listen to her "JIBBER-JAB?" This is "UNREAL"!!!
    I thought she was concerned with the American people and education...
    This proves she's ALL TALK and LIES – JUST LIKE OBAMA!!!

    June 28, 2014 12:35 am at 12:35 am |
  13. Gordon Jones

    Could be that these students are members of the Young Republican college organization. Generally they are Frat Rats and engage in Sophomoric activites – mostly juvenile and insulting/disrespectful. At this point they will be crawling out of the woodwork nationwide in attacks on Democratic candidates. Most of them I have known have never amounted to much later in life.

    June 28, 2014 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
  14. D2016

    No way anyone let alone vindictive partisan liar Hillary is worth this kind of money for an hour of leftist propaganda and revisionist history . . . .paying her to campaign should be illegal? She is totally out of touch with middle class America who has far less net worth than one hour of her precious time.

    June 28, 2014 12:42 am at 12:42 am |
  15. Donnie

    Might pay her to stay away

    June 28, 2014 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
  16. Terminology

    She'll return the Money, after all the Money is not important to her, yeah, right

    June 28, 2014 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
  17. Anonymous

    I hope these two students from UNLV don't forget that in August 2013 Obama signed a student loan law. I was
    introduced n JUly 1 2014 after congress failed to act before what it was the dead line.

    June 28, 2014 12:51 am at 12:51 am |
  18. Mr.K

    Oh NO! Old poor Hillary is almost FLAT BROKE. lol. Give the money back? Grow up!

    June 28, 2014 12:58 am at 12:58 am |
  19. gba

    Hilary you need some help in the lying department. I wish I could be just as poor and broke as you. Lets just say that I never slept with that woman, is about as genuine is how broke you were when you left the white house.

    June 28, 2014 01:04 am at 1:04 am |
  20. H. J.

    I cannot see any reason to have her speak anywhere except at her trial about lying to the American public. Maybe she should pay them just to let her on campus.

    June 28, 2014 01:31 am at 1:31 am |
  21. Richard Vaughan

    Yep...the money goes to "Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea"...not to poor Hillary....Well you morons invited deserve what you get....less $225,000. (And this is from a former Wolfpack Alum).

    June 28, 2014 01:35 am at 1:35 am |
  22. Richard Vaughan

    And yes, "Her record speaks for itself"

    June 28, 2014 01:37 am at 1:37 am |
  23. Don

    I'm retired and make 40 thousand a year and she makes 250,000 in one day. And she is running for President she stinks of lies just like her husband. If she runs for President and wins I'm going to give up my Citizenship . And leave this country to Illegals , gays, the rich, and welfare because I don't count anymore.

    June 28, 2014 01:41 am at 1:41 am |
  24. johnboy

    this is what we call a Botox forehead, behind it lies a brain that has as many flat lines as her forehead. Good indication of the persons sincerity.

    June 28, 2014 01:43 am at 1:43 am |
  25. Bhalanee

    It is criminal for a University to give money to a political candidate?

    June 28, 2014 01:44 am at 1:44 am |
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