Hillary Clinton’s $300K UCLA Appearance

hillary-bannerThis morning, I spoke critically of the decision by the University of California, Los Angeles, to pay Hillary Clinton $300,000 for an appearance earlier this year.  One of my chief complaints is that a taxpayer-funded institution should not line the coffers of a likely presidential candidate’s election campaign.

A disagreeableing listener emailed me the following:

You said the tax payers of Californie paid for Hillary Clinton UCLA  speaking fee, that was a lie, UCLA says the $300,000 speaking fee paid Hillary Clinton came from private endowment. You also forgot to mention that Hillary Clinton donates her speaking fees to the Clinton Global Initiative, I’m sure you hate that too. You sure got a bad case of Clinton Derangement Syndrome, if I wanted  to hear continues Clinton(s) bashing, I would listen to Hannity. Your not a real Democrat anyway, your a Green  in Democratic clothing.

In response, I emailed the listener:

Thanks for writing and listening ________.  I didn’t lie.  I wrongly believed the money came from the general endowment but later corrected the record onair noting that the money came from a speaker’s fund established by a very rich guy.

I then noted:

Re the CGI:

“ABC reports, however, that it has been unable to get Hillary Clinton to provide documentation attesting to the donation of her speaking fees to the foundation. A review of the Clinton Foundation’s Form 990s for several of the past years reveals no disclosure of the names of major donors and therefore no information as to whether Hillary Clinton (or Bill Clinton, for that matter) has been donating speaking fees to their philanthropy. However, Hillary Clinton’s commitment to donate the speaking fees may be a decision of somewhat recent vintage, to be revealed in future 990s. (The most recent Clinton Foundation 990 available to the public on GuideStar or the Foundation Center’s online directory is from tax year 2012.)”


I added:

But even if the money does go to charity, the charity is a huge win for the Clintons as it promotes their brand as a philanthropic and charitable one.  So, to imply that [Hillary] is not acting out of self-interest seems naive.

I concluded with the following paragraph:

Do you believe our state universities should serve as backdrops for politician’s campaigns and lend their very considerable prestige to such individuals even if the actual fee comes from a private donor?  I note also that the donor insisted that the university recoup at least $100K from the event so the money to pay for it did not come solely from a special fund.

Here’s how I wish I had ended the email:

Trying to distinguish whether the actual speaker’s fee came from UCLA’s general fund or a private donation is a fool’s errand.  Money is fungible.  Had Mrs. Clinton’s intent been truly salutary, she could have forewent the six-figure honorarium she normally demands for speaking or returned it to UCLA’s general fund.  Otherwise, the $300,000 from the “Luskin Lecture for Thought Leadership” could have been spent on several other lecturers with divergent, even unsafe views, whose much more modest fees would have allowed many more students to attend, question, and even challenge the “thought leaders”.

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