Hillary Clinton under fire for extravagant speaking deal while Rand Paul heads to Guatemala to perform free eye surgeries

There is nothing wrong with a former public official leveraging their status to make a healthy living, and then some. But the case of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is a little different.

The 2016 Democratic presidential frontrunner has claimed that her family was “dead broke” when they left the White House, despite purchasing homes in Washington, D.C. and New York. To mitigate the criticism done by her gaffe, Clinton claimed that she pays her taxes, “unlike a lot of people who are truly well off.”

Clinton is trying to toe a fine line. She wants to present herself as a populist, someone in tune with the economic struggles of ordinary voters, or, as she says, earning a living “through dint of hard work.” But she’s finding it difficult to do so given that she’s made millions of dollars off speaking fees, $4.2 million alone from big business, and book deals.

Clinton came under fire again over the weekend as the details of an October speaking deal for the University of Nevada-Las Vegas Foundation were released by the Las Vegas Review-Journal. In short, the former First Lady is living the life of a diva. Her standard contract asks for a private plane, presidential suite, a $300,000 speaking fee (which is apparently negotiable), and much more:

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.
[…]
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.

Ah, the high-life. Again, there’s nothing necessarily wrong with a high-profile person capitalizing on their celebrity. But consider that Clinton will earn $225,000 for 90 minutes worth of work. The median household income in the United States is $51,017, according to the most recent statistics.

Yeah, man, Clinton totally feels the pain of the average American.

But while the details of Clinton’s speaking engagement are under scrutiny by the media and pundits, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), an ophthalmologist by trade, is using some of the August recess to visit Guatemala, where he’ll perform free eye surgeries:

An ophthalmologist with a medical degree from Duke University, Paul is joining a medical mission to do eye surgeries in Guatemala as Congress continues its August break. The trip comes as Paul tries to differentiate himself from other Republican contenders, including efforts at reach out to minority groups and Silicon Valley.
[…]
“It’s just something I kind of miss in my life, and I want to be able to give back,” Paul said in an interview.

He’s going with a medical team from the Moran Eye Center at the University of Utah. Surgeons with the eye center do these kinds of international trips all the time, most recently in Micronesia. But bringing along an expected presidential candidate is different.

Paul’s three days of surgeries are going to be well documented. About 17 members of the press are going to accompany Paul, said Michael Yei, outreach manager for the Moran Eye Center. He said the list includes Fox News Channel host Greta Van Susteren and her crew, the Christian Broadcasting Network, the Washington Post, the National Review and the conservative website Breitbart News.

This isn’t new for Paul. He took a day during the spring recess to perform free eye surgeries for uninsured patients in Paducah, Kentucky. The work he does also has the benefit of keeping sharp his skills as a doctor, something he says he wants to do again when he leaves Washington.

But the two stories highlight the differences between Clinton and Paul, both of whom have indicated that they’re running for the presidential nominations of their respective parties. And it’s the reverse of the narrative we’ve come to know. Here you have a Democrat under fire for being out of touch with the average American and a Republican who is using his talents to give to those who need it the most.


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