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. Corwin Amber

    Yes, well, I'd like President Bush to give back all the money the American people paid him to run this country into the ground, but I suspect that will not happen either.

    June 28, 2014 01:46 am at 1:46 am |
  2. Michael

    Just a bunch of right wing punks thinking they're having fun. They're would be no problem if the money was going to war criminal Cheney.

    June 28, 2014 02:17 am at 2:17 am |
  3. Anonymous

    Hillary is right. Her record does speak for itself – her pitifully confusing and incompetent record. She's a sleaze. Anyone paying her a dollar to speak is a fool. She is a meandering, disjointed liar.

    June 28, 2014 02:21 am at 2:21 am |
  4. jamesa46

    Hillary is right. Her record does speak for itself – indicating how buffoonish and incompetent she is. She is a sleaze and anyone paying her to speak is a fool. If you want to hear disjointed meandering gibberish from the mind of a nitwit, then be my guest, pay to listen to her uh-uh-uh-uh gibberish.

    June 28, 2014 02:26 am at 2:26 am |
  5. aaa

    LOL at any idiot that would pay to hear that old hag babble.

    June 28, 2014 02:30 am at 2:30 am |
  6. Jeremy Eliot

    $225,000 ?!?!?!?!?! WOW!!! Every word in her speech has to be more than gold plated wisdom... it must be 24k wisdom through and through... And lets be fair, its not. Ms. Clinton is certainly a bright person but not brilliant. So why do people pay that kind of money for the privilege of listening to her speech ? Well... Perhaps its because the people pay this fee have an agenda. We will never know for sure only if Ms. Clinton will be our next President.

    June 28, 2014 02:35 am at 2:35 am |
  7. wayne miller

    at least there were no bullets flying over her head.

    June 28, 2014 02:37 am at 2:37 am |
  8. wayne miller

    my record speaks for itself....does she mean her police record?

    June 28, 2014 02:39 am at 2:39 am |
  9. wayne miller

    how about that file that was found on her coffe table that was not to have left the FBI vault?

    June 28, 2014 02:43 am at 2:43 am |
  10. Edward

    She is bad news. Very bad news. Far too much blood on her hands and baggage, extremely heavy and useless baggage. We have to stay clear of her type.

    June 28, 2014 03:11 am at 3:11 am |
  11. roger rabbit

    monica got paid more than that and she didnt even have to speak

    June 28, 2014 03:11 am at 3:11 am |
  12. Molly Andrews

    "Republicans are seizing on any news that continues the storyline." And you jumped right on it too. How do you have the nerve to print that line when you are doing the same thing! I used to rely on CNN for your unbiased reporting and lack of sensationalism, but you are going the way of all of the other cheap media.

    June 28, 2014 03:31 am at 3:31 am |
  13. Dick McCallson

    The "Clinton Foundation" is nothing but a tax exempt slush fund for the Clintons.

    June 28, 2014 03:32 am at 3:32 am |
  14. Ombudsman

    If she was touted as being a "best-selling author", that's fraudulent advertising.

    June 28, 2014 03:35 am at 3:35 am |
  15. Michael Jenkins

    More BS grandstanding thanks to the GOP. Not one of them return their speaking fees. They can go to hell what BS.

    June 28, 2014 03:39 am at 3:39 am |
  16. Paul

    Hilary pretend she is one of us. We sure don't earn $250K for a speech.

    June 28, 2014 04:05 am at 4:05 am |
  17. Paul

    Hilary is the female Obama. She ran the foreign policies for 4 years for Obama while Obama was out golfing. The world is on fire now.

    June 28, 2014 04:06 am at 4:06 am |
  18. Bill

    To the students at UNLV: Do you really think that you want to listen to clinton? WoW and to think you are going to have to pay for her abuse makes me wonder about you who are graduating??

    June 28, 2014 04:18 am at 4:18 am |
  19. flygril

    what could she say that could be of any importance after the disgraceful excuse of a life she has led?

    June 28, 2014 04:42 am at 4:42 am |
  20. Rob

    Gee, must be tough to as poor as ole Hillary

    June 28, 2014 05:06 am at 5:06 am |
  21. Melvin Brewster

    Good idea, it is the way of Native Americans in Nevada to help the People! Nevada is broke, so, other than food and lodging, CLinton ought to do the Talk, Pro Bono.

    June 28, 2014 05:47 am at 5:47 am |
  22. Anonymous

    She declined an honorarium but is taking a tax loss for the event becauswe she claims it as a donation as opposed to her usual extravagant speaking fee .No university should ever pay a speaking fee that outrageous and have the nerve to raise students fees.

    June 28, 2014 06:01 am at 6:01 am |
  23. Norm W

    The fact that a university or college will pay $300K to a compulsive liar to address the audience speaks volumes for the quality of education being dispensed. Liberal progressive garbage is on the daily menu in most schools these days.

    June 28, 2014 06:03 am at 6:03 am |
  24. poormansurvival

    Someone is actually willing to pay to hear her speak?

    June 28, 2014 06:04 am at 6:04 am |
  25. Norm W

    What a colossal waste of good money to invite any politician to address a college assembly, or graduation. Better to hire someone with a proven track record of helping improve the human condition in our nation; lord knows we need it.

    June 28, 2014 06:07 am at 6:07 am |
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