Hillary Clinton's $225K UNLV Speech Fee Sparks Uproar

(Molly Riley/AP Photo)

Hillary Clinton is appearing at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas this October and her speaking fee - $225,000 - has sparked an outcry that seems to be getting louder.

The fee has led to calls by UNLV students for Clinton to either speak for free or donate the money back to students. Nevada political journalist Jon Ralston has been among those leading the charge against UNLV's decision.

"You could give scholarships to thousands of students, benefit research on campus, give more students grants for research and studying," Daniel Waqar, Student Relations Director for the UNLV Student Government told Ralston this week.

" Tuition just went up seventeen percent. It's gone up a hundred percent over the past decade or so. We think that students could really use this support from the $225,000-and greatly benefit from the scholarships-from the speaking fee, Waqar said.

Indeed, Nevada higher education officials signed off on a plan to hike undergraduate tuition at UNLV by 17 percent (roughly 4 percent a year for the next four years), complicating the optics for Clinton's payday.

The UNLV fee will reportedly be deposited into the account of the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation rather than directly into Clinton's own wallet. (Though that has done little to quiet critics). The fee will be paid by the university's foundation (which describes itself as "a nonprofit organization that raises and manages private funds for the benefit" of UNLV).

According to the event description, "The UNLV Foundation Annual Dinner is a prominent philanthropic event in Las Vegas, honoring individuals and organizations that advance UNLV's mission through their generous private support."

"Guests include the university's major supporters and our community's most distinguished leaders, alumni, and philanthropists."

An invitation-only event, the base price for UNLV's fundraiser is $200 a head.

Though for a measly $20,000 - $10,000 - $5,000 or $3,000 extra- an invitee could reserve a table with "priority," "elite," or "premium" seating.

"Premium" seating would entitle guests to perks including

  • Invitation for 10 to an exclusive chef's reception by Chef Michael Mina
  • Invitation for 4 to photo session with keynote speaker
  • 10 autographed copies of speaker's book for table host & guests
  • Premium wines, champagne and special menu for guests
  • Full-page ad in dinner program
  • Credit in dinner invitation
  • On-site screen recognition

The lavish charity event comes on the heels of Hillary's recent comment in an interview with ABC's Diane Sawyer about how her family was "dead broke" upon leaving the White House.

Both Bill and Hillary Clinton's speaking fees have come under increasingly intense scrutiny lately. Just today, the Washington Post ran a front page story headlined, "How the Clintons went from 'dead broke' to rich: Bill earned $104.9 million for speeches," detailing the couple's eye-popping earnings on the speaker circuit.

Coming to her defense, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid noted that Clinton is "not charging to speak" at a Clean Energy Summit to be held in Las Vegas a month before her UNLV speech.

Nevertheless, questions about the speaking fees and the Clinton family's wealth are likely to keep coming.

The Wall Street Journal reported Friday afternoon that Hillary received $300,000 for a speech she gave earlier this year at UCLA. The newspaper also contacted Donna Shalala, the current president of the University of Miami and the former Health and Human Services Secretary in Bill Clinton's administration, about a speech Hillary gave at the Florida university in February.

When asked whether Clinton's fee was in the $200,000 range, Shalala told the Journal: "No, no, no, no, no, no," insisting that it was covered entirely by a private donor - a Republican, according to Shalala.