Cost of free speech

With the Nevada presidential caucuses drawing near, Hillary Clinton’s speaking fees—an issue with special resonance in Nevada—are drawing attention.

On Jan. 5, Clinton opponent Bernie Sanders said large financial institutions whose sheer size endangered the nation during the 2007 meltdown should be broken up into smaller institutions and he was critical of Clinton for accepting speaking fees from such entities.

“The reality is fraud is the business model of Wall Street,” he said. “It is not the exception to the rule. It is the rule.”

Subsequently, published a list of 12 Clinton speech fees from large financial institutions under the headline, “Hillary Clinton Made More in 12 Speeches to Big Banks Than Most of Us Earn in a Lifetime.” The list, which totaled $2.9 million, included Bank of America, Fidelity Investments, Deutschbank, Goldman Sachs and six other entities. Goldman Sachs paid out the most, apparently for multiple appearances, at $675,000.

On Oct. 10, 2014, Clinton gave a speech at the annual University of Nevada, Las Vegas Foundation dinner, a speech which cost the foundation $225,000. In remarks that night, Clinton said in part, “Higher education shouldn’t be a privilege for those able to afford it. It should be an opportunity widely available for anybody with the talent, determination and ambition.” She also spoke of students dragging student loans around like an “anchor.”

The event was held at the at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino and was accompanied by protests by students who faced a 17 percent tuition hike over the next four years.