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.

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"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.

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Filed under: 2016 • Hillary Clinton • Nevada
soundoff (465 Responses)
  1. Chris..E.al

    Clinton is a self serving crook . So far out of touch with normal .

    June 28, 2014 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
  2. john

    I find it interesting that she claimed no charge and paid her on way to speak to the united Methodist women assembly. a little checking turned up an interesting little caveat. she wrote off a $358,743.00 deduction on her income taxes for that speaking engagement under charitable contributions.

    June 28, 2014 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  3. Inquirer

    The question then becomes: How much money or equivalent compensation (salaries, offices, travel expenses, etc.) are Hillary, Bill, and/or Chelsea paid from their foundation or from affiliates of their foundation? Any way you cut the pie, one can rest assured that the $225,000.00 speaking fee will be benefiting in some way, shape, or manner the Clintons personally, albeit perhaps indirectly a la the Global Initiative labyrinth.

    June 28, 2014 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  4. Anonymous

    Just another political stunt by repubs. I bet if you look hard enough you will see Rove behind this somewhere.

    June 28, 2014 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  5. Anonymous

    Just report the facts we don't need your opinions about the Republicans. I am sure Hillary can fence for herself.

    June 28, 2014 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  6. Patricia

    I can only imagine what it costs for a speaker LIKE Hilary Clinton, to travel, and have security ... for mere mortals like ourselves, we can check into any old Motel and eat a quick Taco somewhere ... but NOT a high-profile person. And frankly I can also well imagine that when they left the White House, that they did NOT have the sort of money that families like both the Bushes and Kennedy's would have had behind THEM ... family money.

    June 28, 2014 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  7. barbara

    These university students shouldn't hold their breath about getting the money back. Hillary says she cares about the average person and identifies with their struggles.... that's the lingo she uses. She's a hypocrite. If she runs in 2016, just remember who not to vote for.

    June 28, 2014 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  8. Bruce

    Oh thats funny " the money will go to the Bill , Hilary and Chelsea foundation BUT NOT to Hilary .

    June 28, 2014 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  9. charles m myers

    UNLV can ask Killary to speak if they want,but personally.I wouldn't attend and listen to anything the left wing old lady has to say. I pray that we don't get another liberal ideologue running our country!

    June 28, 2014 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  10. Anonymous

    this is so typical of the Republicans. First they short change the school system, them they convince the students that the one who is likely to reduce educational prices... is the enemy !

    June 28, 2014 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  11. Roger Lafontaine

    Hillary Clinton= Pope Benedict. Elizabeth Warren= Pope Francis. Time for a real change.

    June 28, 2014 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  12. Hunter

    Of course it's paid to the Clinton foundation.. She doesn't want to pay TAX'S on that money

    June 28, 2014 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  13. Carol Louse

    What exactly is "The Clinton Foundation"?

    June 28, 2014 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  14. Clayton

    She kills me. She wants to live in luxury and then tell all these people she feels their pain. Ridiculous. We certainly don't need her for President.

    June 28, 2014 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  15. Free Man in the Republic of Texas

    Hey Dude.... NO REFUNDS... PERIOD
    "I" am broke. "I" am entitled. "I" care about you.

    TRUST "Me"
    "I" am NOT a liar

    June 28, 2014 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  16. Gann

    LOL republicans don't get it; being ugly is going to bring them down; ask those moving away from the Party in disgust.

    June 28, 2014 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  17. J

    Hillary is a serial liar.

    June 28, 2014 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  18. david dacosta

    if she has not made her speech yet...simply cancel it period..why do we have to pay her...she is still a public servant...as far as i am concern..she owes the American people that...Why would any one invite her for a speaking engagement in the first place...

    June 28, 2014 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  19. s cassidy

    350 000 dollars for a speech at Carlisle Group ,? sounds a bit llke a bribe . what do they expect in return ?.

    June 28, 2014 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  20. Anonymous

    Megalomania is a psychopathological condition characterized by delusional fantasies of power, relevance, omnipotence, and by inflated self-esteem.[

    June 28, 2014 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  21. Freedom Now

    Good for them! She claims to be a public servant but only if you pay her the big bucks.

    June 28, 2014 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  22. Green Mountain Boys

    Good press, bad press, Hilary will take any free press she can get.

    June 28, 2014 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  23. barky

    Who in their right mind would pay her to talk? Duct tape works wonders.

    June 28, 2014 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  24. Ray

    Million dollar reward for IRS emails

    June 28, 2014 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  25. harley bifford

    200,000.00 has nothing to do with college expenses nor tuition? the mysterious donor loves clinton but not the students? is there a class available on this precept??

    June 28, 2014 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
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