Edwards charges $55,000 to speak to UC Davis students about "poverty"
Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, who recently proposed an educational policy that urged "every financial barrier" be removed for American kids who want to go to college, has been going to college himself -- as a high paid speaker, his financial records show.
The candidate charged a whopping $55,000 to speak at to a crowd of 1,787 the taxpayer-funded University of California at Davis on Jan. 9, 2006 last year, Joe Martin, the public relations officer for the campus' Mondavi Center confirmed Monday.
That amount -- which comes to about $31 a person in the audience -- included Edwards' travel and airfare, and was the highest speaking fee in the nine appearances he made before colleges and universities last year, according to his financial records.
The earnings -- though made before Edwards was a declared Democratic presidential candidate -- could hand ammunition to his competition for the Democratic presidential nomination. The candidate -- who was then the head of the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity at the University of North Carolina -- chose to speak on "Poverty, the great moral issue facing America," as his $55,000 topic at UC Davis.
That could cause both parents and students to note some irony here: UC Davis -- like the rest of the public University of California system -- will get hit this year by a 7 percent tuition increase that likely hits many of the kids his speeches are aimed at helping.
We wondered if this is Edwards' going speaking rate, and how come he didn't offer to do it gratis for a college, particularly a public institution.
But Martin of the Mondavi Center said that "as with any other performer, (the speaking fee) has to be negotiated, and there are a long list of considerations ... some of our speakers get more, and some get less."
He said UC Davis' Mondavi Center paid Edwards because at the time "he wasn't a (presidential) candidate and from our point of view, he was a speaker of interest that people in the community were clearly interested in ... we feel it's our mission to present those speakers."
Edwards spoke to at least two other California universities and colleges, both private.
He appeared at Stanford University, where he spoke on April 26, 2006; the Palo Alto institution paid him $40,000 to deliver his talks, according to financial records. And Edwards also headlined at the former University of Judaism -- today the American Jewish University -- in Los Angeles on Jan. 30, 2006, where he debated former Speaker Newt Gingrich before about 5,000 people. According to financial documents, the candidate received a fee of $40,000 at that appearance.
And the college and university gigs apparently added up on the bottom line for Edwards.
In 2006, records show Edwards made more than $285,000 speaking to nine colleges and universities, charging between $16,000 and Davis' $55,000 for his talks. They ranged from the $12,000 he got on Jan. 10, 2006 from Gonzaga University Law School in Seattle to the $40,000 he banked from the University of Texas Pan American Foundation on May 22, 2006. Other schools that have paid Edwards to speak before he was a declared presidential candidate: Hunter College in New York ($35,000), Mount Union College in Ohio ($16,00) and Vanderbilt University in Nashville ($40,000).