Home Foreign Chelsea Clinton Follows Parents’ Lead as a Paid Speaker

Chelsea Clinton Follows Parents’ Lead as a Paid Speaker



There is a new Clinton paid to deliver speeches — Chelsea, the former first daughter — and she is commanding as much as $75,000 per appearance.

Aides stressed that while Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton often address trade groups and Wall Street bankers, Ms. Clinton, now 34, focuses on organisations whose goals are in line with the work of the family’s philanthropic organization, the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation. Organsers said her star power helped sell tickets and raise money.

And unlike her parents’ talks, Ms. Clinton’s speeches “are on behalf of the Clinton Foundation, and 100 percent of the fees are remitted directly to the foundation,” said her spokesman, Kamyl Bazbaz, adding that “the majority of Chelsea’s speeches are unpaid.” The Harry Walker Agency, the firm that represents her parents’ engagements, handles Ms. Clinton’s talks on behalf of the family foundation.

The family speechmaking business is a lucrative one and has generated more than $100 million for her parents over the past decade as they hopscotched the globe. Their fees range from $200,000 to $700,000 per appearance, and Mr. Clinton alone earned $17 million last year giving speeches.

Ms. Clinton has avoided the controversies that have lately accompanied her mother’s speeches, particularly at public universities. Mrs. Clinton, the former secretary of state and a potential presidential candidate, also donates her university fees to the family foundation, but critics have said that as taxpayer-supported institutions, the schools should put that money to better use.

In New York on Monday, Assemblyman Kieran Michael Lalor, a Republican, called on the University at Buffalo to disclose how much it paid Mrs. Clinton, who spoke there in October. She will get $225,000 for a coming speech at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, and the University of California, Los Angeles, paid Mrs. Clinton $300,000 to speak in March.

University administrators have said that private donations cover the fees. “No revenues from tuition or state support were put toward the speaking fee,” said Jean-Paul Renaud, a U.C.L.A. spokesman.

This fall, after the tour on behalf of her latest book slows down, Mrs. Clinton will once again hit the speaking-engagement circuit, including an address in August at the Nexenta OpenSDx Summit in San Francisco for software storage professionals.

Political rivals have said the six-figure fees make Mrs. Clinton out of touch with average working Americans. America Rising, an anti-Clinton “super PAC,” has called on the Clinton Foundation to release additional information about how much of the money is donated and how it is being used by the foundation.

Chelsea Clinton was once doggedly averse to the attention of the news media, but she has taken on a larger public role in recent years. In April, when she said that she was expecting her first child with her husband, Marc Mezvinsky, she announced the news while onstage with her mother — and in front of reporters from around the nation — at an event related to the Clinton Foundation’s No Ceilings initiative to help women and girls.

Ms. Clinton and her parents have devoted much of the past year to build up the family foundation’s endowment, and speaking engagements have been a part of that.

In August, they will likely host another fund-raiser in the Hamptons, where they will spend their vacation. Mr. Bazbaz said Ms. Clinton was not paid for her role as the organization’s vice chairwoman. She does get a salary at NBC News (of $600,000 a year, before she recently switched to a month-to-month contract, according to Politico) where she became a special correspondent in 2011.

Ms. Clinton’s speeches focus on causes like eradicating waterborne diseases. (“I’m obsessed with diarrhea” is a favorite line.) And she dispenses lessons picked up from her family. (“Life’s not about what happens to you, it’s about what you do with what happens to you,” she likes to say).

The speaking engagements often include question-and-answer sessions in which she fields inquiries about growing up in the White House and her mother’s plans for 2016. Ms. Clinton often says she is “unapologetically biased” when it comes to her mother, and that “my crystal ball is no clearer than yours” on whether she will run for president again.

The cost to book Ms. Clinton surpasses that of speakers with longer résumés, like Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor and a potential Republican rival to Mrs. Clinton in 2016. He makes an estimated $50,000 per speech. Colin L. Powell and Madeleine K. Albright, both former secretaries of state, are also in the $50,000 range, said one person who has booked speakers but who could not discuss private contracts for attribution.

The Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County hired Ms. Clinton to speak at its inaugural event in March. Tickets started at $1,000 per family, and the event raised more than $2.1 million. “There is great synergy between federation’s work and Chelsea Clinton’s message,” said David Phillips, the group’s president and chief executive.

And in May, Ms. Clinton, who by then is expected to be a new mother, is scheduled to speak at the C2MTL business conference in Montreal.

Last year, she addressed 950 people at a benefit for Girls Incorporated of Omaha, a nonprofit group in Nebraska supported by Susie Buffett, the daughter of the billionaire Warren E. Buffett. Previous speakers for the benefit included both of Ms. Clinton’s parents; President Obama; and Archbishop Desmond M. Tutu of South Africa, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work fighting apartheid.

Roberta Wilhelm, executive director of Girls Incorporated, declined to say if Ms. Clinton was paid, commenting only that the event “was packed, and she was a draw.”

Ms. Clinton has not ruled out running for office, and her schedule provides plenty of opportunities to hone her public speaking skills. She is a Stanford graduate and can sometimes sound overly cerebral. During Q. and A. sessions, she casually employs words like “vituperative” and “NCD” (short for noncommunicable disease) that can befuddle audiences.

In March, Ms. Clinton delivered an unpaid keynote address to a crowd of more than 3,400 people in Austin, Tex., at the SXSW Interactive Festival. She received mixed reviews: “Chelsea Clinton reading off a speech with zero enthusiasm,” one audience member said in a Twitter message.

But Ms. Clinton, grinning and poised, turned it around as she answered questions and shook hands afterward. Rachel Sklar, a New York tech entrepreneur, described her in terms more associated with her father, the former president: “Exceptional at working/receiving a crowd. Warm, genuine, friendly, jocular, approachable.” (NY Times)

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