Dear President Tripathi,
It has been reported that the University at Buffalo is refusing to reveal how much the University paid Hillary Clinton to speak last year. The same news reports reveal that Clinton receives a standard speaking fee of $200,000 or more. New York State taxpayers and your university students have a right to know how much the University paid Clinton to speak. There is no justification for the University withholding this information.
In other reports, Clinton claims she donates her university speaking fees to the Clinton Foundation. Were you aware of this and do you know whether the University’s money went to the Clinton Foundation? Do you believe the University exists to make six-figure donations to global charities? Or would that money be better spent serving the University’s students?
The University should publish the cost of Clinton’s speaking fee. Taxpayers fund the university. It is a public institution and should embrace transparency. I understand the University claims it doesn’t have to reveal the cost because the funding came from the University’s private foundation, but that is a poor excuse. The University at Buffalo is a public university, it should be open and transparent about how it spends money. The same goes for the University’s foundation. When the foundation spends exorbitant amounts to bring in guest speakers, it means taxpayers will be making up the difference elsewhere. That’s why taxpayers should know how the foundation spends its money. You can’t separate the University from the foundation.
I also hope the University will reconsider its policy on paying exorbitant speaking fees. Taxpayers fund public universities to provide a quality affordable education. One speech, no matter how high profile, contributes little to the goal of a public university. It’s simply not an expense that can be justified. I would be happy to discuss the matter further. I can be contacted at 845-221-2202 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Assemblyman Kieran Michael Lalor