Say what you will about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but don’t say she can’t draw a crowd.
The UNLV Foundation, which is proposing to pay Clinton $225,000 to speak at its annual dinner in October, has sold more than $350,000 in table sponsorships thus far, and the invitations haven’t even been sent out yet.
The hefty speaking fee has drawn the ire of UNLV students, who have called upon Clinton to donate the money back to the university. But her name — and her potential 2016 presidential candidacy — has done exactly what the UNLV Foundation hoped it would: generate interest in the dinner and sell tables.
Thus far, 16 tables at the $20,000-sponsorship level have been sold, along with three at $10,000 and one at $3,000. Organizers are hoping to squeeze an additional $20,000 table into the Bellagio ballroom where the event will be held.
The foundation — which is funded with donations — has ponied up big bucks for a speaker before. It paid former President Bill Clinton $250,000 back in 2012, and CBS News broadcaster Charlie Rose was paid $141,700 last year. Before that, presidential adviser David Gergen got $55,000 in 2011, author and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin got $57,000 in 2010 and baseball great Cal Ripken Jr. got $52,700 in 2006.
But here’s the thing: For years, the dinner — originally conceived as a free-admission thank you for foundation donors — lost money. The first one, back in 2005, ended up costing nearly $320,000, and the event remained in the red even after the foundation started charging for tickets in 2010 and offering table sponsorships in 2011. It was only when Bill Clinton came to speak — and was paid the highest fee the foundation has ever paid, before or since — that the dinner made a $76,000 profit and saw nearly 1,000 people attend.
It’s entirely possible Hillary Clinton will beat Bill Clinton’s record, both in terms of profit and attendance.
And, like so many other women in America, she’ll be paid less for doing the same job as a man!
■ It’s difficult for anyone who’s been there to start thinking about Carson City and the convening of the 2015 Legislature eight months before it actually happens, but lawmakers and legislative committees are already requesting bills. The first batch of 138 bill requests released this week has some interesting proposals.
Assemblyman David Bobzien, D-Reno, has asked for a bill that “revises provisions governing (a) course of instruction on sexual education.” After working so hard on his AB 230 in the 2013 session, only to see it derailed near the end of the session after some of the most ridiculous testimony ever offered in the legislative building, it’s good to see he has not given up.
The Senate Judiciary Committee proposes to deal with the blood feud between big casinos and neighborhood gamer Dotty’s by creating a new gambling license, known as a “slot parlor.” The move would allow up to 15 slot machines, which is good news for Dotty’s. The downside? They’d have to pay a 15 percent tax on their win, more than twice the top rate for unrestricted license holders such as Station Casinos, MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment.
And, as if to prove he’s a man who will still take on lost causes, state Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, proposes two joint resolutions: One would repeal the state constitution’s voter-approved requirement that tax increases receive two-thirds support in the Legislature, and the other would repeal the initiative amendment that created term limits.
Both of those ideas are well worth considering. Those initiatives run counter to the democratic principle of majority rule and the right of voters to select their preferred representatives. And the system works fine without them: a governor can still veto a tax bill, and that veto would still require a two-thirds supermajority to override. Meanwhile, voters have shown they’re smart enough to get rid of bad representatives at the ballot box without the need for constitutional term limits.
But Bobzien’s idea to make Northern Nevada’s Picon Punch the official state drink? Over a Rat Pack martini? To the ramparts, Southern Nevada!
Steve Sebelius is a Las Vegas Review-Journal political columnist who blogs at SlashPolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter (@SteveSebelius) or reach him at 702-387-5276 or firstname.lastname@example.org.