Hillary Clinton insists that she donates fees for giving speeches at colleges and universities but still has not released documents to back up her claims.
In an interview with ABC News’ Ann Compton Friday, Clinton defended the high-dollar fees she charges for speaking at universities by saying the money goes to charity through the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation she controls with her husband, former president Bill Clinton. But Clinton, in response to specific follow-up questions, has offered nothing but silence.
“I have been very excited to speak to many universities during the last year and a half, and all of the fees have been donated to the Clinton Foundation for it to continue its life-changing and lifesaving work,” Clinton said. “So it goes from a Foundation at a university to another foundation.”
After the interview, ABC News reached out repeatedly to representatives from both the Clinton Foundation and Hillary Clinton’s office requesting documents to support Clinton’s claim, but none were provided.
As a nonprofit, the Clinton Foundation is required by law to turn over detailed financial information to the IRS and release much of that to the public upon request. But the foundation has yet to file its annual IRS form No. 990, which would include donation and expenditure details, for the period since she left the State Department at the start of President Obama’s second term. The deadline for filing is Nov. 15, 2014.
If Clinton does decide to run for president, she would have to file detailed financial-disclosure reports that would shine a light on both her personal income and assets and those of her husband.
At least eight universities, including four public institutions, have individually paid Clinton six-figures to speak on their campuses over the past year, according to the Washington Post.
(Included in this group is the University of Connecticut, which reportedly paid $252,250 from a donor fund for Clinton to speak in April, and the University of California at Los Angeles, which reportedly paid $300,000 for Clinton to speak in March.)
By the Post’s calculations, Clinton has earned at least $1.8 million in speaking income from universities in the past nine months.
Such revelations have sparked a backlash from students on some of these campuses, including at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, where Clinton is scheduled to speak at a fundraiser in October. Students at the school have asked the former secretary of state to refund her fee of $225,000. In her interview with ABC News last week, Clinton offered no indication that she would do so and justified taking the fee because she donates the money back to charity.
Prior to the interview, Clinton’s spokesman, Nick Merrill, told the Post that both her UCLA and UNLV fees are dedicated to go to the family’s Foundation, but said he did not know whether the other six payments were.
Representatives for Clinton and the Clinton Foundation have yet to provide any documents supporting her claim that all of them have. ABC News has also requested that Clinton’s office provide a full list of every school where she has spoken in the past year and a half, but there has been no response.
Hillary Clinton’s speaking fees – roughly $200,000 per engagement — became a point of contention after she told ABC News’ Diane Sawyer in an interview last month that she and her husband were “dead broke” after leaving the White House. Clinton’s detractors seized on the comment as an indication that the potential presidential candidate is out of touch with average Americans.
The Republican opposition-research super PAC, America Rising, Tuesday called on the Clinton Foundation to disclose how it spends its money, in light of the comments Clinton made about donating her fees to the nonprofit.
“Secretary Clinton is using the foundation as a shield from scrutiny,” the group’s executive director, Tim Miller, told ABC News. “If she is going to cite donating speaking fees to the Clinton foundation as her defense for taking big speaking fees then she has a responsibility to be transparent about how that money is being spent.”
The Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation was founded by former president Bill Clinton in 2001 and donates millions of dollars a year to improve global health, opportunities for women and girls, economic growth and the environment. According to its website, the group says its work has helped 430 million lives around the world.