The Washington Post

University at Buffalo paid $275,000 for Hillary Clinton speech

Hillary Clinton at the University of Miami. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
File: Hillary Clinton (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

When Hillary Rodham Clinton agreed to address the University at Buffalo, the largest campus of the State University of New York system, she negotiated a few requirements in addition to her pay of $275,000.

The potential 2016 presidential candidate's agent requested that the university provide "a presidential glass panel teleprompter and a qualified operator," that Clinton's office have "final approval" of her introducer and the moderator of any question-and-answer session, as well as "the sets, backdrops, banners, scenery, logos, settings, etc," and that the topic and length of the former secretary of state's speech would be at her "sole discretion."

These requirements are spelled out in a nine-page contract between the University at Buffalo and Clinton's representatives at the Harry Walker Agency. The contract was obtained through the freedom of information law by the Public Accountability Initiative, a non-profit research and educational group.

The contract reveals for the first time many of the details surrounding Clinton's lucrative career on the paid speaking circuit. Since stepping down from the State Department in early 2013, Clinton has addressed scores of audiences, many of them trade conventions, Wall Street banks and other industry groups.

Clinton has given paid speeches at eight universities, four of them public institutions. In those instances, she has said, she donated her fees to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation, the family's non-profit philanthropic organization. The Buffalo contract stipulates that the "net honorarium" go to the Clinton Foundation, but only after the "full contract fee" of $275,000 was paid to the Harry Walker Agency.

The University at Buffalo issued a statement Wednesday saying "no state funding or student tuition revenue" was used to pay for Clinton's speech. The statement said that about 6,500 students and community members attended Clinton's speech on Oct. 23, 2013, at the university's Alumni Arena, and that Clinton's fee was paid for by ticket sales and other sponsorships and endowments.

The Buffalo contract stipulates that a pre-speech reception featuring Clinton be closed to the news media, although the speech itself was open to the press. The contract also required that the university pay a fee of $1,000 to have a stenographer transcribe Clinton's speech, but that the transcript be "solely for [Clinton's] records," and that the university was not permitted to tape the speech.

The contract required the university to reserve 20 seats in a "priority seating area" for Clinton's staff and guests, and that the university pay for any additional security requested by the U.S. Secret Service, such as magnetometers and trained staff to search the bags of attendees.

Philip Rucker is a national political correspondent for The Washington Post, where he has reported since 2005.

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