Influence peddling at its worst

It’s disappointing to learn how our once elected or appointed government officials have taken advantage of the capitalist system and are making six-figure fees for speaking engagements.

Unfortunately, many politicians fall into that category with speaking engagement fees ranging from $15,000 to $250,000, the amount Hillary Clinton pulls in for a one-hour speech.

After both former presidents — Bill Clinton and George W. Bush — left office, they commanded speaking fees from $100,000 to $225,000 depending on the group.

Thank goodness candidates on the political trail usually don’t charge for their appearances when they meet the “little people.”

Bush, for example, garnered $15 million in a three-year period. In that time, he commanded between $100,000-$150,000 for 140 speeches from the time he left office.

The younger Bush, though, just followed his father’s footsteps because the elder Bush received upward to $100,000 for each speech after he left office in January 1993.

Now the spotlight has turned on Hillary Clinton’s speeches and the astronomical amount she earns. In a search of the website, we discovered that both liberal- and conservative-leaning groups are concerned that accepting six-figure fees to speak before a group could have undue influence on a president or candidate.

In October at the UNLV Foundation fundraiser, Clinton will be paid $225,000 for being the guest speaker. According to the university’s website, the foundation’s dinner began 1989 as a way to celebrate individuals and organizations that advance UNLV’s mission through their private support each year. Donors whose cumulative giving tops $1 million are recognized at the annual dinner.

With Clinton eying a 2016 run for the White House, her speaking fee and diva-like requests are moving her more toward royalty status than a possible leader for all the people. If that be the case, how can she relate to the average middle class person or family? In fairness, that was also a knock on Mitt Romney.

In addition to the speaking fee, Hillary Clinton has made other demands such as the group paying for her private jet transportation, paying round-trip business class airfare for her staffers, limiting the number of photo ops with attendees, taking no videos of her speeches, no public posting of any photos attendees have with her and limiting access of the press to her events.

Unfortunately, Hillary Clinton is not the only former politician who fleeces groups and donors for exorbitant speaking or appearance fees. Until the rest of the country’s residents put their foot down, our future presidents will may go to the highest bidder.

Editorials written by the LVN Editorial Board appear on Wednesdays.


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