Hillary Clinton to collect $225,000 for keynote at UNLV fundraiser

Hillary Clinton will be paid $225,000 to address an Oct. 13 fundraiser for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, a reminder of how much cash the potential Democratic presidential candidate is scooping up on the speaking circuit as she draws GOP criticism for saying she’s “not truly well off.”

Clinton is currently on tour promoting her new book, “Hard Choices,” about her four years as the top U.S. diplomat.

In recent interviews to promote the book, Clinton has been slapped by Republicans who question whether she’s out of touch for portraying herself as struggling financially after she and former President Bill Clinton, left the White House in 2009.

In an interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer just ahead of the June 10 release of her book, Clinton defended the millions of dollars she and her husband have been paid for speeches.

“We came out of the White House not only dead broke, but in debt,” Clinton told Sawyer, explaining the couple had big legal fees from various investigations. “We had no money when we got there, and we struggled to, you know, piece together the resources for mortgages, for houses, for Chelsea’s education. You know, it was not easy.”

Clinton added, “First of all, we had to pay off all our debts, which was, you know, he had to make double the money because of, obviously, taxes and then pay off the debts and get us houses and take care of family members.”

The former first lady generally gets about $200,000 per speech.

GOP critics slammed Clinton again after the British newspaper The Guardian on Sunday published an interview in which she said she and her husband pay taxes like most people, unlike “a lot of people who are truly well off.”

She was responding to a question about how she’ll convince voters she’s not “part of the problem” on the issue of income inequality, which the Democratic Party is pressing these days to contrast its candidates with well-off GOP contenders.

“But they don’t see me as part of the problem because we pay ordinary income tax, unlike a lot of people who are truly well off, not to name names,” she told The Guardian. “And we’ve done it through dint of hard work.”

The Republican research group America Rising slammed Clinton’s latest comments.

“If Hillary is going to run for President she might be advised to take a lengthy sabbatical from her $200k per pop speaking tour and private shopping sprees at Bergdorfs to try and reconnect with what’s happening back here on Earth,” America Rising spokesman Tim Miller wrote Sunday in the email to Politico.

In the 2012 presidential race, Democrats attacked GOP nominee Mitt Romney as rich and out of touch.

In 2000, the Clintons had as much as $10 million in debt, Politico reported, citing financial disclosure statements from her term as a U.S. senator from New York. By the time of the 2008 presidential campaign, however, the Clintons’ tax returns showed they had earned $109 million in the past eight years, Politico reported.

The issue could haunt Clinton as she visits Nevada, a battleground state that has gained importance since 2008 because it holds the first presidential caucuses in the West, following the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary.

The UNLV Foundation Board of Trustees selected Clinton as the keynote speaker for its annual fundraiser and paid $225,000 to the Harry Walker Agency to secure her appearance on behalf of the Bill, Hillary, & Chelsea Clinton Foundation, UNLV spokeswoman Afsha Bawany said. The fee is covered through private sponsorships obtained by the Foundation for the event, she said.

The Oct. 13 UNLV Foundation dinner at the Bellagio is a pricey affair.

The dinner is $200 per seat, but donors also can buy full tables for 10 at various contribution levels, including for $20,000, $10,000, $5,000 and $3,000. The top contribution of $20,000 gets an invitation to a chef’s reception and four photo sessions with Clinton and autographed copies of her book.

Clinton is expected to announce by the end of the year or early next year whether she plans to run for president. Early polls show her the far-away leader among Democratic candidates and a likely winner against potential GOP contenders.

Contact Laura Myers at lmyers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2919. Find her on Twitter: @lmyerslvrj.