Some students who probably need to obtain a better grasp on how the world works are outraged, just sickened, over the amount of money potential presidential candidate Hillary Clinton charges for a speaking appearance.
The president and chief press relations officer of the University of Nevada-Las Vegas student government appeared on a local conservative talk show to criticize Clinton for her "outrageous" speaking fee, requesting she return the money to the university. "We really appreciate anybody who would come to raise money for the university. But anybody who's being paid $225,000 to come speak, we think that's a little bit outrageous. And we'd like Secretary Clinton — respectfully — to gracefully return the money to the university or the foundation," Daniel Waqar, the student government's public relations director, said on Ralston Reports. "When we heard $225,000, we weren't so thrilled," Elias Benjelloun, the UNLV student body president added. "We would hope that Hillary Clinton commits to higher education ... and returns part or whole of the amount she receives for speaking."
Clinton is scheduled to speak at a fundraiser for the UNLV Foundation, a group that raises money for the university, this fall. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported her speaking fee earlier this week, sending Republicans into a tizzy. A campaign could buy a lot with $225,000. Republicans are trying to turn this speech into an issue, given Clinton's recent comments about her own personal wealth and how she's not "truly well off." In reality, though, this is all very silly.
The world of university fundraising is shady and dark on a good day. In this instance, tickets are $200 a plate, unless you buy an entire table, after which the economics are a bit tricky. Per the Review-Journal:
The UNLV Foundation board of trustees selected Clinton, former secretary of state, U.S. senator and first lady, to be the keynote speaker at its Oct. 13 dinner at the Bellagio. Seats are $200 individually, but donors also can buy full tables for 10 at various contribution levels, including for $20,000, $10,000, $5,000 and $3,000.
The more money you donate, the more access to Clinton you receive. It's an expensive fundraiser with an expensive, popular speaker to lure deep-pocketed donors. This is fairly standard. The criticism directed at Clinton, especially in this instance by the two student leaders, operates under the assumption that Clinton pockets the money herself, as if she walks out with a briefcase full of cash with a grin across her face like a cheshire cat. "Suckers," she mutters under her breath, at least in Republican fantasies. It all fits nicely into a little narrative box, the privileged Clinton pulling a fast one on higher education. But this is simply not the case.
Her appearance was paid for by private sponsorships, not public money, the university told the Review-Journal. The money will be paid to "Clinton’s public speaking agency and goes to the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation," her non-profit, according to the Review-Journal. Oops.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.