Giuliani to Seek Advice From FEC About Speaking Fees
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani has continued to make paid speeches at a standard fee of $100,000 since forming his presidential exploratory committee last November, mixing personal business with campaigning in a way many of his rivals in the race cannot.
Presidential candidates who are not federal officeholders are allowed to take money for speeches, as long as they are not raising campaign money at the event, distributing campaign material or delivering an overtly political speech.
But campaign aides said yesterday he will wait to collect his fee for a speech he gave last night until his campaign has discussed the arrangement with the Federal Election Commission and determined how best to handle a handful of speaking engagements already scheduled through the spring.
Giuliani, who has filed an official statement of candidacy with the FEC but has not formally entered the race, spoke in San Diego at a seminar also headlined by famed motivational speaker Zig Ziglar and football coach Marty Schottenheimer. His talk was titled "Courage Without Compromise." Giuliani's aides said he will not accept any more requests for paid speeches.
"Mayor Giuliani is committed to traveling across the country to talk to voters about his vision for the future of the country," campaign spokeswoman Katie Levinson said. "All decisions about his schedule will be made based on what makes sense as he moves toward making an official announcement about a run for the presidency."
Past speechmaking by presidential candidates has attracted the attention of election regulators. In 2003, Democrat Wesley K. Clark returned money for motivational speeches after published reports questioned whether the payments amounted to improper campaign contributions.
Clark said yesterday that he believed his speech fees were legal but ultimately gave them back to avoid giving opponents an issue, and that he worries that putting such fees off limits only hurts candidates who are not wealthy or members of Congress.
"I don't have any problem with Rudy Giuliani giving paid speeches, and I think it is important for America to have a way for people to run for national office without being independently wealthy or taking time out from their constituents. And earning a living with paid speeches is one way to do it," he said. "I just lived off savings, and every month the bank balance went down."
"Federal officeholders have the ethics rules and honoraria restrictions that apply to them. And state officeholders often face strict limits on accepting fees. So it is true that those people who are in private sector have more latitude to speak in private settings," Michael Toner, an FEC commissioner, said yesterday.
Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (R) and former senator John Edwards (D-N.C.), who like Giuliani are private citizens, have not accepted speaking fees since joining the presidential race, their campaigns said.
Edwards, "actually canceled a paid appearance that had been scheduled long before he became a candidate," spokeswoman Kate Bedingfield said.
Yesterday's San Diego speech came at the end of a five-day campaign swing though California. The event was closed to the news media, though the public could attend for as little as $4.90 a ticket, according to the promotional materials.
Two weeks ago, Giuliani gave a similar speech in Atlanta at a seminar that also featured former secretary of state Colin L. Powell. In coming weeks, Giuliani is scheduled to speak in Delaware, Houston and several other venues, according to Internet advertisements released by his promoter, Get Motivated Seminars.
The former New York mayor has made a profitable career of speaking at seminars around the world. Eric Money, a recent Oklahoma State University graduate, arranged to bring Giuliani to the school last March for $100,000 and, as is customary, agreed to fly the mayor to town on a corporate jet, for an additional $47,000.
"He cost a lot of money, obviously, and some people were surprised at that, and a little taken aback," Money said yesterday. "But he's a big name and was a possible presidential contender, and in the end, I thought his whole leadership message was very appealing."
Money said his only regret about the speech was that Giuliani did not shed any light on his presidential ambitions, or about his views of the 2008 campaign.