Hillary Clinton is facing a backlash over her paid speeches, with students at the University of NevadaLas Vegas calling on her to reject the $225,000 that the school is paying her family charity, and Republicans saying her lucrative engagements demonstrate that she is removed from everyday voters.
Mrs. Clinton, a likely 2016 presidential candidate, has been giving a mix of paid and free speeches since leaving the State Departmentearly last year. She collected $300,000 for a speech at UCLAin March, a spokesman for the school said Friday, adding that the money came from a privately funded endowment.
She has also given paid speeches at Hamilton Collegein New York and the University of Miamiwhich wouldn't disclose her fees. A Hamilton spokesman said a private endowment covered her appearance on campus last year.
The UNLVfee for her appearance this fall will go to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation
The dispute at UNLV comes as Mrs. Clinton is making the case that she can empathize with struggling American families whatever her net worth.
Earlier this month, she told an interviewer that she and her husband left the White House in 2001 "dead broke." Yet they had put together the money to buy two houses in upscale neighborhoods and were never at risk of real financial distress. In post-presidency,
Hillary Clinton before a speaking engagement earlier this year. Getty Images
Mrs. Clinton has said she was "inartful" in describing her wealth, but stressed that she has spent much of her life advocating for poorer Americans.
Mrs. Clinton plans to deliver the keynote speech at a UNLV fundraising event in October. Her appearance fee is $225,000, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Her office declined to comment on the UNLV speech. A school spokesman wouldn't confirm the amount but said such fees are paid through private donations and that no university funds are involved.
That doesn't satisfy student leaders. Earlier this month, the state's higher-education system decided to raise tuition by 17% over four years. Some students said they would like to see Mrs. Clinton donate her fee to the school.
Daniel Waqar, 19 years old, a junior at UNLV and a spokesman for the student government, said students would be sending a letter to Mrs. Clinton asking her to "donate the money back to students."
"Donating the money back would be an example of her standing for higher education and standing for students," Mr. Waqar said. The $225,000 fee is enough to award 225 students scholarships of $1,000 apiece, he noted.
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Donna Shalala the University of Miami president and a former cabinet secretary in Bill Clinton's administration, said in an interview Friday that she negotiated a discount for Mrs. Clinton's appearance in February. Asked if Mrs. Clinton had received a fee in the $200,000 range, Ms. Shalala said: "No, no, no, no, no, no." A private donor covered Mrs. Clinton's speaking fee, in any case, she said.
"I've got a major donor who is always anonymous on this," Ms. Shalala said. "He says, 'If it will educate the students and give them an opportunity they wouldn't have any place else, just send me the bill.' And he's a Republican."
Mrs. Clinton's stature is such that universities benefit from her appearances, higher-education officials say. A UCLA web page carries a picture of Mrs. Clinton's visit to campus. When University of Miami tour guides talk to prospective students, they mention various speakers who've appeared"as part of the pitch," Ms. Shalala said.
Michael Wixom, a member of Nevada's higher education Board of Regentssaid Mrs. Clinton is worth the money. "The fee is relatively high, and I understand that. But she's a very high-profile speaker at this point," he said.
He added that "no student funds, no tuition funds, no state dollars are being used in any way to pay her fee.…And as part of an overall effort to raise money for the university, I think it's appropriate."
Republicans are highlighting Mrs. Clinton's paid appearances in hopes of derailing her potential campaign. They hope to paint her as too rich to appreciate people's financial burdens. Democrats used a similar argument against Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential race. Mr. Romney made millions working at private-equity firm
The Republican National Committeeput out a statement Friday saying Mrs. Clinton's speaking fee at UNLV is four times the amount of the median household income in Nevada in 2012.
Mrs. Clinton's supporters rejected any comparison to Mr. Romney or Bain Capital.
Tracy Sefl, a Democratic strategist, said Mrs. Clinton "and her husband making money giving speeches and talking about how to make the world a better place is worlds different from Mitt Romney making money off of Bain Capital outsourcing American jobs."
Mrs. Clinton has said she won't announce her presidential plans until next year. Meantime, there is a split-screen aspect to her days, as she interweaves charitable work and events that bring in money to the family.
On Tuesday she was in Denver at a Clinton Global Initiative conference, where she spoke about the income divide in America. She cited statistics attesting to the difficulties that young Americans face in finding work.
Then she resumed her book promotion tour, flying to San Diego, where she signed copies of "Hard Choices" at a local book store.
A Princeton PhD, was a U.S. diplomat for over 20 years, mostly in Central/Eastern Europe, and was promoted to the Senior Foreign Service in 1997. After leaving the State Department in order to express opposition to the planned invasion of Iraq, he taught courses at Georgetown University pertaining to the tension between propaganda and public diplomacy. For many years he shared ideas on the theme "E Pluribus Unum? What Keeps the United States United" with Eurasian/European delegates participating in the "Open World" program.
Brown’s articles have appeared in numerous publications. A recent piece is “Janus-Faced Public Diplomacy: Creel and Lippmann During the Great War” (published in Nontraditional U.S. Public Diplomacy: Past, Present, and Future; now online).
He is the author (with S. Grant) of The Russian Empire and the USSR: A Guide to Manuscripts and Archival Materials in the United States (also online). In the past century, he served as an editor/translator of a joint U.S.-Soviet publication, The Establishment of Russian-American Relations, 1765-1815.