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. Truthwillout

    These students may be naïve, but does anyone notice how greedy Hillary Clinton is?

    June 28, 2014 06:08 am at 6:08 am |
  2. Mdunson

    Give back money and work for nothing, these kids must be the stupidest college grads in the world. I am sure they will work for nothing.

    June 28, 2014 06:28 am at 6:28 am |
  3. mohey

    US universities student invite Hillary Clinton to hold domestic political meeting to discuss certain pressing issues. Clinton may launch a political campaign for the next presidential election. She is strongly candidate for the next presidential election. She also has published her famous book, Hard Choices. Through her book, she recites her political career.01018026363

    June 28, 2014 06:36 am at 6:36 am |
  4. Mikeed13

    Well it looks like they don't buy into what the wicked witch of the north is preaching. A sign of what's to come?

    June 28, 2014 06:40 am at 6:40 am |
  5. Jim Hennen

    University of Nevada LV is giving Hillary Clinton $225,000 to let the students hear her lies? This to a woman who's only known accomplishment is to defend her role in the militant's killing of four people on her watch? Why am I not surprised by this, coming as it does from the state that keeps electing Harry Reid? What possible wisdom can come from her mouth other than a complete confession of her ineptitude? For $225,000, the students deserve no less.

    June 28, 2014 06:55 am at 6:55 am |
  6. minute man

    i think any one that has to listen to her she should pay them

    June 28, 2014 06:55 am at 6:55 am |
  7. Laurence Childers

    It is a shame when you can't trust someone especially when she is looking at her interests and to hell with the other people. I guess it runs in the clinton family. Even the money grabbing daughter going after all the money she can get at the voters expense.

    June 28, 2014 06:57 am at 6:57 am |
  8. nuclear mike

    Give it all back Hillary...

    June 28, 2014 07:02 am at 7:02 am |
  9. Ken

    Hillary, you and Bill had your adventures in life, now take your millions and go off into the sunset...

    June 28, 2014 07:04 am at 7:04 am |
  10. Bradford Johnson

    I wonder if Hillary will claim her waivers of speaking fees as "charitable donations" on her Federal Income tax return. If she does, she will be claiming millions in deductions.

    June 28, 2014 07:06 am at 7:06 am |
  11. bill


    June 28, 2014 07:07 am at 7:07 am |
  12. robert

    What could this woman possibly say that is worth $225,000!!

    June 28, 2014 07:20 am at 7:20 am |
  13. Brady

    You mean the Republicans are seizing the opportunity to make her look bad like you people beat the GW bridge story to death? Yes. I'm referring to CNN.

    June 28, 2014 07:26 am at 7:26 am |
  14. bwilly

    What a deal! Billary rakes in big bucks giving pre-campaign speeches to potential Democratic voters! And this is surprising? What PAC is really paying the universities to let her speak?

    June 28, 2014 07:30 am at 7:30 am |
  15. Brady

    Well, I can appreciate that CNN is being objective about Clinton. I compare the Republicans jumping on top of this issue to CNN's endless and extensive coverage of the GW bridge closure. At least they were objective here.

    June 28, 2014 07:32 am at 7:32 am |
  16. Marie MD

    Next time you have a speaker and you don't want to spend the money then don't hire a speaker.
    Have one of those wet behind the ears know it all students speak. I bet nobody shows up!

    June 28, 2014 07:33 am at 7:33 am |
  17. benjamin

    It was absurd for the University to agree to pay anyone that much to speak.

    June 28, 2014 07:34 am at 7:34 am |
  18. Gene

    If somebody private wants to pay this pos money to talk let them. Just make certain that no school employees, no school security forces, no school food or any other school resources are used unless totally paid for by private funds. Then whoever wants to waste their time can feel free to do so. Think students should promote their own speech "parties" coinciding with the scheduled event and load the campus up with joy

    June 28, 2014 07:35 am at 7:35 am |
  19. Hugh

    The students are right on! Paying such a high fee to this old dried up crone is crazy and I would wager if one looked over the books of the Clinton's foundation they would find some very interesting things!

    June 28, 2014 07:43 am at 7:43 am |
  20. Sherman

    I can,not believe the B.S. and only 1/2 reporting and along Democratic lines,this piece of crap,came from: and let me try ?
    and ex[plain,why ! Clinton,s Hillary,Bill and her daughter,have a trust fund ! You bet,that out of that so called "trust fund",
    I will bet that they get a hefty salaries and commissions,Bogus paycheck,s for little or no effort and is tax exempt,to some
    degree! I wonder if Lois Lerner and the I.R.S. sought out and investigated her (Hillary Clinton) as they did the Tea Party
    and the G.O.P.???

    June 28, 2014 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  21. Robert Johnson

    She needs to speak on how she was able to have our Ambassador and three other Americans killed in the Bengnazhi killings added to Vincent Foster and hundreds of other murders still be dead broke and have millions of dollars in the bank! Must be a trick of IRS and her Communist Democrate friends and liberal media!!!

    June 28, 2014 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  22. Ted Steiner

    "When it rains, it pours for Hillary Clinton". So this article is a nice, big golf-size umbrella, clearly marked CNN all over it. This seems to be a reasonable critique. Why won't you post it, CNN?

    June 28, 2014 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  23. Anonymous

    Hillary should have to return millions in fraudulent money as she and Slick Willie are criminals and have been a part of massive fraud, and murder cover ups.

    The LEGAL Citizens of this country want a refund Hillary

    June 28, 2014 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  24. Steve

    These people are all part of the 1% they "detest." They're all the same, Democrat or Republican.

    June 28, 2014 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  25. james richard

    Come on the woman said she was broke give her a break what do you want her to do eat out of a can??

    June 28, 2014 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
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