Clinton’s speaking fees to Universities a political liability

HIllary Clinton and Mitt Romney
HIllary Clinton and Mitt Romney

CHICAGO, August 18, 2104 — Liberal media made much ado about Mitt Romney’s wealth, Ann Romney’s t-shirts, and their dancing horse. Democrats had a field day with his rich white-guy persona.

People who live in glass houses should not throw stones.

Mitt Romney is a capitalist; he makes no bones about it. His wealth is enormous, but he made it the old fashioned way; he earned it. He amassed his wealth by creating business.

He’s also picked up some money through speaking fees. According to Leading Authorities (a speakers bureau), Romney’s speaking fee begins at $75,000. During his presidential campaign, liberal media gave him plenty of flack for declaring some $375,000 in speaking fees for twelve months in 2011.

In 2012, wrote:

It turns out that Romney “collected more than $360,000 in speaking fees from such companies as Barclay’s Bank and Goldentree Asset Management over a 12-month period ending last year, according to his financial disclosure filing.”

To put that in perspective, that’s over 7.2 times the median household income in the United States. If you earned over $360,000 last year and lived in the richest county in America, you’d be earning about triple the local median household income. You would be, in other words, a rich person even if you didn’t have any investment income, hadn’t made a fortune in your earlier career, and weren’t only a part-time income earner who was mostly focused on his presidential campaign.

I think it’s lame to criticize politicians for being “out of touch,” but it suggests an unfamiliarity with important, policy-relevant, and not-particularly-obscure economic statistics for Romney to characterize this as “not very much” income.

Hillary Clinton is also wealthy. She was first lady and, with her husband, broke when she left the White House — so she says. She went into the Senate (now composed mostly of millionaires), was appointed secretary of state, charmed some kings and the occasional aristocrat, is a best-selling author, and is now in demand as a speaker.

She works hard for the money, and you better treat her right. If you want Hillary to attend an event, its going to cost you far more than Mitt ever demanded, and it doesn’t stop with her fee. Hillary has a list of demands that raise her above the ranks of mere politician to the ranks of diva.

Spinal Tap only demanded a bowl of M&Ms without a single brown one in the mix.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that for an October 13 speech at a University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) Foundation, Hillary received $225,000, a discount from her initial $300,000 asking price. Records obtained by the Las Vegas Review-Journal through the state public records law show that “fancy” really doesn’t do her justice.

The fee was only the first of Clinton’s many stipulations that are a part of her standard contract. Amongst her demands for that speaking fee are:

  • A chartered 16-passenger Gulfstream G450 “or larger”;
  • Presidential suites in luxury hotels, plus five other rooms reserved for staff;
  • All meals, incidentals for herself and staff and a $500 travel stipend for her lead travel aid;
  • Business Class round trip tickets for two advance staffers (arriving before, leaving after the event);
  • She must be the only person on stage during her remarks
  • UNLV will provide, and pay for, a stenographer to record Clinton’s remarks, however Clinton is the only person to get a copy of the remarks.
  • You cannot advertise her attending the event other than via email or website;
  • You cannot invite press to attend the event;
  • You can invite 100 people to meet with HRC, but that includes her 20 staff persons
  • You can take up to 50 pictures of HRC, but they cannot be used for any promotional purpose.

What did UNLV get? 90 minutes of her time.

A Daily Caller poll of UNLV students showed some dissatisfaction toward Hillary’s hefty speaking fee. “Some students at the university have called on the likely 2016 Democratic candidate for president to return the money, noting how tuition is going up 17 percent for students in Nevada.” The outrage didn’t stop with students:

Now a new poll from WPA Opinion Research — shared with The Daily Caller on Thursday — indicates that most voters in this crucial primary and general election state for presidential candidates agree that the fee is unfair to students.

Fifty-five percent of likely Nevada voters find it unfair while just 29 percent find the fee fair, according to the poll.

Voters were asked: “As you may have heard, UNLV has agreed to pay Hillary Clinton two hundred and twenty five thousand dollars to speak at a school foundation fundraiser. This comes even as tuition at the university has gone up seventeen percent. Do you believe the fee for Hillary Clinton to speak at UNLV is fair or unfair to UNLV students?”

The July 14 and 15 statewide survey conducted by WPA in Nevada consisted of 405 likely voters with a margin of error of 4.9 percent.

“The recent string of missteps from former Secretary of State Clinton have continued as she further alienates voters with her out-of-touch image management,” a memo from WPA Opinion Research states. “Clinton has irked voters in the critical swing state of Nevada with the exorbitant fee she is charging UNLV, especially in light of the recent increases in tuition students are being forced to pay.”

And Republicans agree:

“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.

As do students:

Devin Murphy, UCLA’s undergraduate student body president, said: “You can’t deny that Hillary Clinton has had vast experience in public service to our nation. But I am a bit concerned that $300,000 was spent for her to come. I am personally a low-income student of color at our university, and I recognize the importance of being fiscally responsible.”

In response to the criticism, Clinton spokespeople  told CNN that the UNLV speaking fee would go to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation.

Other universities that have paid Clinton to speak include the University of Los Angeles-California (2003) as part of a donor-sponsored speaker series, for which Clinton was paid $300,000 though it was originally reported that she was not being compensated for her appearance.

“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.

Donna Shalala, University of Miami president and a former Bill Clinton cabinet member, told reporters at the time that Clinton was being paid a “discounted” rate for the appearance.

CNN reports that 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.

Hillary’s other speaking engagements include one at the University of Connecticut — which just raised tuition by 6.5 percent — which paid $251,250 from a donor fund for Clinton to speak on campus in April. University at Buffalo, Colgate University and Hamilton College in New York, as well as Simmons College in Boston and the University of Miami in Florida all paid undisclosed fees to Clinton for speaking, but if she charged her standard fee of $200,000 plus rider perks like Gulf Stream Jets, it would mean she took in at least $1.8 million in speaking income from universities in the past nine months.

That would be 4.8 times the amount that Mitt Romney earned as a speaker in 2011.

None of this includes the many appearances Clinton makes before business and private groups. It begins to appear that Clinton’s seemingly outrageous demands and speaker’s fees to colleges will be a political liability.

CNN reports:

Harry R. Lewis, a professor and former undergraduate dean at Harvard University who has written critically about priorities in higher-education spending, said speaking fees at Clinton’s level amount to “an extravagant form of advertising” for colleges that should focus instead on more scholastic initiatives.

“What makes fees at this level outrageous … is that one speaker’s fee becomes comparable to what it costs to educate a student for several years,” Lewis said. “At the same time you’re putting your students into serious debt, as most institutions do; it’s an allocation of resources that’s very suspect.”

The speakers’ fees for these events are often paid as part of annual lecture programs endowed by wealthy donors for the purpose of luring prominent speakers to campus. Edward Kerschner, who has worked as a senior executive at financial firms such as UBS, Citigroup and Morgan Stanley Smith Barney has funded the Colgate lecture series.

UNLV Clinton Contract (as obtained by The Las Vegas Review-Journal)

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