Mitt Romney will charge Mississippi State University $50,000 to deliver a lecture on campus next week, most of which will go to charity — a dramatically lower fee than the $250,000 to $300,000 Hillary Rodham Clinton requires for her university lectures.
Romney — the 2012 Republican presidential nominee who is weighing a third run for the White House — will speak as part of the university’s Global Lecture Series, a speaking series administered by the student government, a university official said.
Romney has directed that most of his $50,000 fee go to Charity Vision, a nonprofit organization that partners with doctors to provide free eye surgeries that is led by one of Romney’s sons, according to a contract obtained Monday by The Washington Post under a public records request to the university. The remaining portion of the amount will be set aside to cover Romney’s travel, according to the contract.
Romney’s fee stands in stark contrast to Clinton’s, the presumptive 2016 Democratic front-runner who has spoken to dozens of industry associations, Wall Street banks, universities and other groups.
The former secretary of state’s speaking fees at universities have typically also gone to a family-connected charity — in her case, the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation. However, her high fees have drawn campus protests and sharp criticisms from Republicans, who have said they demonstrate a likely presidential candidate who has grown out of touch.
At the University of California Los Angeles, Clinton’s $300,000 fee prompted a university official to inquire with her speaking agency whether the university could receive a discount. The official was told that the $300,000 was her special university rate.
She is scheduled to deliver two paid speeches Wednesday in Canada at events sponsored by the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.
Romney’s speaking schedule has received less attention, particularly since his return to the private sector following his loss in 2012. According to a financial disclosure released during that campaign, he collected more than $360,000 in speaking fees in 2011 from appearances at Barclay’s Bank, Goldentree Asset Management and other companies.
Sid Salter, a spokesman for Mississippi State University, said the former Massachusetts governor was chosen by the campus’s student leadership for the annual lecture. Past speakers have included former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and broadcaster Dan Rather. He said Romney’s fee is on the low end for the series, which is funded using a portion of sales taxes collected from on-campus sales.
“Mitt Romney is not going to personally receive any compensation for the speech,” Romney spokesman Colin Reed said. “It’s all going to Charity Vision and travel costs.”
The Chartwell Worldwide Speakers Bureau, which represents Romney, advertises on its Web site that he offers “a clear vision of the key challenges facing America and the world” and “will bring a huge draw to any event or conference.”
According to the contract, Romney will spend about six hours on campus, including a reception for students, a VIP meeting and an hour-long lecture, including a question-and-answer session. He is then tentatively scheduled to attend a dinner with alumni.
Clinton tends to spend less time on the ground with each appearance, typically attending a short reception prior to her speech. A university official at UCLA asked that groups be prepared to snap photos with her before she arrived, noting that Clinton “doesn’t like to stand around waiting for people.”
Romney’s contracts set some limitations similar to Clinton’s, such as banning the university from releasing recordings of his speech without his permission and requiring his sign-off for promotional materials. It outlines no requirements for luxury amenities, such as food or equipment in his green room, though it is possible those kinds of requests have been made by his representatives in private communications with the university.
Romney has long been a supporter of Charity Vision, a Provo, Utah-based organization that provides medical care to people in the developing world. The group’s president is one of Romney’s sons, Josh.
In 2013, Mitt and Ann Romney, along with their family and friends, traveled to rural Peru on a mission for Charity Vision. There, they helped conduct eye exams for local villagers, including many children. In a video promoting the trip, Mitt Romney described eye screenings at a local school.