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POLITICS: White House

Hillary Clinton is making a killing on the speaking circuit: Eight universities that have paid top dollar

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,White House,Hillary Clinton,Bill Clinton,2016 Elections,Higher Education,Becket Adams

As Hillary Clinton's bumpy, gaffe-riddled book tour continues its slow and painful journey through Britain, questions regarding her impressive wealth continue to dog her back at home.

Indeed, a few news outlets are even taking a closer look at the amount of cash American universities have dished out to book the former secretary of State for public addresses.

Based on limited -- and guarded -- information, the Washington Post estimates that Clinton will rake in roughly $1.8 million from speaking at eight American universities this year.

For example, the University of Connecticut, which recently increased its tuition by 6.5 percent, paid Clinton $251,250 from a donor fund to speak in April, the Post reported.

Meanwhile, the University of California at Los Angeles paid Clinton roughly $300,000 to speak in March, and she is scheduled to deliver a speech in October at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, where tuition will jump by 17 percent over the next for years, at a cost to the school of about $225,000.

She has also delivered paid speeches at the University at Buffalo, Colgate University, Hamilton College in New York, Simmons College in Boston and the University of Miami in Florida.

However, as those schools are keeping quiet about her fees, it’s unclear how much cash she took in from those engagements.

“But if she earned her standard fee of $200,000 or more, that would mean she took in at least $1.8 million in speaking income from universities in the past nine months,” the Post reported.

By the time the Clintons vacated the White House in 2001, they had accrued a sizable amount of debt. However, they quickly reversed their fortunes by going on speaking tours and charging enormous fees.

With speeches and book deals, the family has pulled in more than $100 million over the last 14 years. Hillary Clinton earned roughly $8 million in the late 2000s to write a memoir titled Living History. Bill Clinton was paid a reported $15 million to write a memoir titled My Life.

At a time when the cost of tuition is skyrocketing, and another potential 2016 candidate, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., is wooing the press with her ultra-populist message about burdensome student debt, a growing number of critics are beginning to question the wisdom of dishing out thousands of dollars so that Hillary Clinton can tell a roomful of students to be “open-minded.”

“The students are outraged about this,” UNLV’s student body president Elias Benjelloun told the Washington Post. “When you see reckless spending, it just belittles the sacrifices students are consistently asked to make. I’m not an accountant or economist, so I can’t put a price tag on how much we should be paying her, but I think she should come for free.”

UNLV students have sent a letter to Clinton demanding that she decline the proposed $225,000 speaking fee. If she fails to do this, the letter warned, students will boycott her address.

A majority of the schools that paid Clinton’s speaking fee did so via endowments and private donations and not through “tapping tuition.”

Or, as blogger Glenn Reynolds put it on Instapundit: "It's basically the academic establishment laundering contributions for an ally."

But Clinton is not without support.

“All Hillary’s doing is getting paid what she normally gets paid for giving speeches — not much more, not much less — and she does honor to the university by coming,” said UNLV trustee Brian Greenspun, Bill Clinton’s Georgetown University roommate.

“If you bring the right speakers in, people will come listen to them. If you bring the wrong speakers in, no one will show up. The right speakers, in today’s capitalistic world, cost more money,” he said.

And some students defend the decision to dole out six figures to hear Hillary Clinton muse on higher education.

“Having a political figure with the prestige of Hillary Clinton I think is a positive thing,” said UConn student body president Mark Sargent.

Now, what makes Hillary Clinton “prestigious” is not exactly clear. Perhaps it’s her last name. We’re still checking for her accomplishments.

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