Posted August 16, 2014 - 3:22pmUpdated August 16, 2014 - 5:33pm
High fashion, expense for Hillary travel
By LAURA MYERS
©2014 LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL
Hillary Rodham Clinton likes to travel in style.
She insists on staying in the “presidential suite” of luxury hotels that she chooses anywhere in the world, including Las Vegas.
She usually requires those who pay her six-figure fees for speeches to also provide a private jet for transportation — only a $39 million, 16-passenger Gulfstream G450 or larger will do.
And she doesn’t travel alone, relying on an entourage of a couple of “travel aides,” and a couple of advance staffers who check out her speech site in the days leading up to her appearance, much like a White House trip, according to her contract and supporting documents concerning her Oct. 13 speech at a University of Nevada, Las Vegas Foundation fundraiser. The documents were obtained by the Las Vegas Review-Journal through the state public records law.
CENTER OF ATTENTION
Clinton, a former first lady, U.S. senator from New York and U.S. secretary of state, is expected to run for president in 2016. Her lifestyles of the rich and famous ways and comments that she made about her wealth during a recent book tour have fueled criticism that she’s out of touch with average Americans.
The Democratic contender said she pays taxes, unlike some people who are “truly well off.” She also said she and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, were “dead broke” when they left the White House in 2001. In the past eight years alone, the couple has earned more than $100 million, much of it from speaking fees, according to Politico.
In fact, the former president spoke at the 2012 UNLV Foundation dinner, taking home a $250,000 fee. His spouse will get $225,000 to speak at the annual dinner. The size of Hillary Clinton’s fee has come under fire from critics who question the large expense in an era when students are hard-pressed to cover tuition and leave school saddled with massive debt.
But Clinton’s $225,000 is something of a cut-rate. Documents obtained by the newspaper show that she initially asked for $300,000 and reveal that she insists on controlling every detail of the private event, large and small, to ensure that she will be the center of attention.
“It is agreed that Speaker will be the only person on the stage during her remarks,” according to the May 13 contract the Harry Walker Agency signed for Clinton’s keynote address at the Bellagio.
According to her standard speaking contract, Clinton will remain at the event no longer than 90 minutes; will pose for no more than 50 photos with no more than 100 people; and won’t allow any press coverage or video- or audio-taping of her speech.
The only record allowed will be made by a stenographer whose transcription will be given only to Clinton. The stenographer’s $1,250 bill, however, will go to the UNLV Foundation.
The foundation, meanwhile, is prohibited from advertising the event on radio, TV or billboards. Mail and website ads are allowed, although Clinton staffers must approve in writing any promotional material. One unhappy UNLV Foundation official in an email complained of “meddling” after Clinton’s agency edited a description of the annual dinner to “dumb it down.”
And Clinton’s demand for approval of all website material before it hits the Internet prompted a UNLV Web designer to grouse in an email that it seems “assbackwards in my mind.”
The foundation complied with Clinton’s wishes, however.
POLITICS IN PLAY
While big-name speakers such as the Clintons have been proven moneymakers, the foundation took a pass on a Hillary appearance in 2013 because Bill had appeared the previous year and the organization didn’t want to come off as favoring Democrats.
“We need to be careful not to appear partisan,” said a Feb. 18, 2013, email from the UNLV Foundation to the Harry Walker Agency.
Later, in a Jan. 31, 2014, email, UNLV suggested that Hillary Clinton might want to be interviewed by former TV broadcaster Tom Brokaw, who was supposed to speak in 2013 but fell ill and had to be replaced by talk show host Charlie Rose.
“It would temper any criticism by uber conservative donors that we’re giving her a campaign stop, particularly in light of the fact the BC was here 2 years prior,” reads an email from Tori Klein of the UNLV Foundation to Beth Gargano, a Harry Walker Agency representative.
But Clinton, who has had a rocky relationship with the press, had already vetoed media interviews.
Ironically, uber-conservative donor Sheldon Adelson, the chairman and chief executive officer of the Las Vegas Sands Corp. who donated an estimated $150 million to GOP campaigns and causes in 2012, will be honored at the UNLV Foundation dinner. His company helped UNLV raise millions of dollars this year and committed $7 million toward construction of a hotel college building and a proposed Center for Professional and Leadership Studies, the foundation said.
The annual dinner, one of Las Vegas’ biggest fundraising events, attracts powerful donors. The top givers this year, who purchased the most expensive $20,000 tables, are a who’s who of Nevada business and politics. They include:
Bank of America; Barnes & Noble College; Barrick Gold; the Bennett Family Foundation; Cashman Equipment Co.; the Engelstad Family; Kell and Nancy Houssels; Konami Gaming Inc.; Dana and Gregory Lee; Mr. and Mrs. Hae Un Lee of Lee’s Discount Liquor; Joyce Mack; The Mendenhall Family; MGM Resorts International; NV Energy; PR Partners; the Wells Fargo Foundation; and Michael and Renee Yackira.
Clinton’s contract allows her to invite up to 20 guests, including her staff, and have them sit together to be able to join the photo line.
None of the photos can be made public.
“The Sponsor is also required to communicate to the photo line attendees that the photo is for private, personal use only and that the photo cannot be used in any way to imply any kind of endorsement of an entity, individual, product or service,” the contract says.
“Any use of the photo that suggests or implies any such endorsement is forbidden.”
UNLV did win one major concession in contract talks that stretched more than a year: The Harry Walker Agency Inc. agreed to a $225,000 fee, down from Clinton’s standard $300,000.
Clinton’s fee usually includes expenses such as travel by private jet, other transportation, hotel rooms, phone charges, a TelePrompter, if needed, and all meals and “incidentals” for her and her staff.
“We can bring the fee down (because of the fact that a major portion of the $300K is for the jet),” an agency representative wrote in a May 23, 2013, email to a UNLV Foundation official.
“I believe the $225,000 ALL INCLUSIVE plus stenographer fee should do it,” the agency said in a follow-up May 31, 2013, email after the university negotiated the discount and asked for confirmation.
Presumably, Clinton will have to pay for her own jet to Las Vegas, presidential suite and other costs she normally charges to events, unless some private donor picks up the tab.
According to a May 31, 2013 email, Clinton’s standard contract usually includes:
■ Round-trip transportation on a chartered private jet “e.g., a Gulfstream 450 or larger jet,” plus round-trip business class travel for two advance staffers who will arrive up to three days in advance.
■ Hotel accommodations selected by Clinton’s staff and including “a presidential suite for Secretary Clinton and up to three (3) adjoining or contiguous single rooms for her travel aides and up to two (2) additional single rooms for the advance staff.”
■ A $500 travel stipend to cover out-of-pocket costs for Clinton’s lead travel aide.
■ Meals and incidentals for Clinton, her travel aides and advance staff, as well as all phone charges.
■ Final approval of all moderators or introducers.
The UNLV Foundation expects up to 1,000 people for the dinner, which is expected to turn a healthy profit. By early July, the organization had already sold out its top $20,000 tables with the $10,000, $5,000 and $3,000 tables going fast.
Individual tickets also are on sale for $200 each.
UNLV student leaders have sent a letter to the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation, which collects the $225,000 fee, asking that Hillary Clinton donate all or part of the money back to the university. They’ve received no reply.
UNLV Foundation leaders have defended paying such a high fee to Clinton, arguing that the dinner will make a profit and that her presence is both a big draw and an honor.
The foundation has raised more than $1 billion for the university over the years.