The issue of money keeps dogging Hillary Clinton and she seems unwilling to do much to escape the increased scrutiny from all sides.
This week, the Washington Free Beacon reported that Clinton received $275,000 for a one hour speech and very limited photo session at the University of Buffalo.
Although the media focuses on the money paid out, the real story may be tax law problems for non profit educational institutions. Most colleges and universities fall under the 501 (c) 3 category protecting them from paying taxes. That status can be jeopardized by overt support of a political party or a political candidate. Under Obama, the Internal Revenue Service has imposed significant burdens on conservative institutions applying for this coveted status. Political activity is often cited as a reason.
By not officially announcing herself as a candidate (although she has made frequent and coy allusions to it), Clinton has given cover to colleges and universities willing to fork over hundreds of thousands of dollars to be graced with her presence. Some would say purchase influence.
The Free Beacon report contained criticism from MSNBC's Chuck Todd that Clinton earned "presidential" level payments. In 2011, however, the Daily Beast covered criticism of former President George W. Bush's speaking fees, which typically run between $100,000 and $150,000.
Almost every time, Bush collected six figure payments from private sector institutions. The University of Buffalo is a public school.
Others who achieved Clinton's highest office, secretary of state, do not make as much for appearances. Condoleeza Rice was set to collect $35,000 from Rutgers before bowing out in the face of protests. This only outpaced reality star Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi by $3,000.
Clinton's pay days seem to have backfired. The MSNBC panel discussed how quickly Clinton's approval ratings fell after the sustained drip of money stories commenced. Most Americans do not begrudge money honestly made, but few want to hear about rich people crying poverty. Nor does it look good when public universities, in a time of outrageous tuition, pay out $275,000 for anyone to show up for an hour.