GOP spotlights fees ahead of Clinton Vegas fundraisers

Story highlights

  • Hillary Clinton has two events in Las Vegas on Monday, the second for a UNLV fundraiser.
  • Republicans and students have highlighted Clinton's speaking fee throughout the summer.
  • Clinton has said her $225,000 speaking fee will go to the Clinton Foundation.
Republicans looking to fault Hillary Clinton hope the few hours the former secretary of state will spend in Las Vegas on Monday will remind voters of her less-than-perfect book roll-out and high-dollar speaking fees.
Clinton, who starts her day in Denver for a fundraiser with Sen. Mark Udall, will make two appearances in Las Vegas on Monday. She will first headline a fundraiser for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid at the Aria Hotel and Casino, then the former secretary of state will keynote a fundraiser or the The University of Nevada-Las Vegas Foundation at the swanky Bellagio.
Republicans are seizing on the second speech, where Clinton, the prohibitive favorite for the Democrats' presidential nomination in 2016, will collect $225,000 for her appearance, according to event organizers.
Although a Clinton spokesperson argues that the fee will go straight to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation, the former first lady's appearance in Las Vegas on Monday was possibly the most controversial and widely talked about paid speech Clinton was set to give this year.
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"Clinton's Nevada Pay Day," said an email from the Republican National Committee. "As Clinton's Long-Awaited Silver State Pay Day Arrives, A Reminder Of The Troubles It Caused Her Would-Be Campaign."
"The much anticipated Hillary UNLV speech reminds us that Hillary's exorbitant fees and travel requirements are going to be problematic on her run for the White House," RNC Press Secretary Kirsten Kukowski said in an email.
When Clinton's appearance at the UNLV fundraiser was announced in June, students at the university protested the fact the foundation was spending money to bring Clinton in at the same time that their tuition was going up due to budget issues.
"In keeping with Secretary Clinton's long-standing history of advocating for students in higher education, we as student government leaders are asking that she charitably donate part or all of the $225,000 speaking fee she is reportedly making for this fundraising speech back to the UNLV Foundation of UNLV as a whole," Elias Benjelloun, the UNLV student body president, and Daniel Waqar, the student government's public relations director, wrote in a letter addressed to Clinton's foundation.
The letter goes on to ask Clinton "to do what is right" and donate the money. "This would be an incredible opportunity for Secretary Clinton to remain true to her commitment to higher education," they write.
The students, however, never heard from Clinton or the foundation, but are not planning to protest outside the event on Monday.
UNLV and Clinton have defended the event.
"Private donations secured by the UNLV foundation from donors funded her speaking fee which was paid to the Harry Walker Agency," Afsha Bawany, a spokesperson for UNLV, said over the summer. University administrators have also argued that the money the event will bring in will far outweigh the money paid the Clinton.
Clinton also told ABC News in August that "all of the fees have been donated to the Clinton Foundation for it to continue its life-changing and life-saving work."
That hasn't stopped Republicans from using the fees to knock Clinton's comments on her personal wealth.
During the first interview of her book rollout Clinton argued that she and her husband were "dead broke" when they left the White House in 2000. The comment rang hollow, even to many Democrats, given that the Clintons went on to make millions on the paid speaking tour and in book sales.
Republicans used fees like that from UNLV to constantly remind people of Clinton's wealth and inarticulate comments for much of the summer.
"Greedy," said Tim Miller, executive director of America Risng, an anti-Clinton super PAC. "Hey kids, I know that tuition is skyrocketing and you all are loaded up with student debt but I'm going to go ahead and take in $1.8 million from your universities for 8 hours of speeches anyway," Miller said in an email to reporters.
Reid, who Clinton will appear with on Monday, did not pile on, however, and refused to criticize Clinton's UNLV speech.
"Anything we can do to focus attention on UNLV, that's extremely important to do, and this certainly will focus attention on UNLV, and that's why they have these people come," Reid told the Las Vegas Review Journal in June.
The Reid-Clinton relationship, especially in the context of Clinton's possible 2016 bid, has been on full display in the last six months.
Reid sent a fundraising email for Ready for Hillary over the weekend, touting Clinton as someone "doing everything she can" to help Democrats get elected in 2016.
The Senate majority Leader also invited Clinton to headline his green energy conference in Las Vegas earlier this year, where Reid said he had "such admiration for the Clinton family."
"She's the best," Reid said of Clinton.