Hillary

Hillary Clinton, whose book tour hasn’t exactly gone as planned, defended her high college speaking fees by saying she donates those fees to charity- The Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation.

Clinton was trying to fend off criticism of the massive wealth she and Bill have accumulated since leaving the White House, when she made her comments to ABC’s Ann Compton.

All of the fees have been donated to the Clinton Foundation for it to continue its life-changing and life-saving work. So it goes from a foundation at a university to another foundation.

That’s generous of her. While the donated money doesn’t add to her family’s wealth it does keep them in the spotlight and advances their personal agenda which could benefit her if she decides to run for president again in 2016.

Clinton said the point of her speaking tours isn’t to collect money, but to spar debate about income equality- and based on her $200k plus speaking fees makes her the poster child for income inequality. That just shows how out of touch she really is.

Hillary’s college speaking fees have come under fire recently when students as the University of Nevada Las Vegas demanded that she turn down the $225,000 the university is scheduled to pay her for a speech in October. This has led to an investigation of Clinton’s speaking fees at other schools which has shown that she has found the college speaking circuit very lucrative.

It’s been a rough few weeks for the former Secretary of State as she has been criticized for saying that she and Bill were “dead broke” when the left the White House and struggled to pay their mortgages (plural), and that they weren’t “truly rich,” despite earning over $100 million since 2001.

In 2012, the Democrats made a big deal of Mitt Romney’s vast wealth, but at least he built businesses and created jobs. Hillary’s wealth has been created by writing books and giving speeches,- not exactly something that benefits the middle class and gets Americans working again.

Photo by Rex C. Curry Associated Press

Photo by Rex C. Curry Associated Press

As expected Sen. Ted Cruz easily won the presidential straw poll at the Texas state Republican convention this past weekend in Ft. Worth, but the margin of victory over Gov. Rick Perry was the real story. Cruz, the freshman Tea Party Senator, “cruised” to victory with 43.4 percent of the vote.  Coming in a distant second was Dr. Ben Carson-who wasn’t even at the convention with 12.2 percent, narrowly edging out Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) who garnered 12.1 percent of the vote.  Finishing a disappointing fourth was Perry, who spoke at the convention and is leaving office after a record 14 years leading the state.

Perry who ran for president in 2012, but flamed out after a disastrous debate where he lost his train of thought, is believed to be a potential 2016 candidate and has been relatively popular in Texas, but he left the convention badly wounded with his poor showing.

In general straw polls don’t matter that much and are generally conducted with 1,000 or so votes.  But in Texas there were over 5,000 votes cast and Perry just totally fell flat.  If he has finished a distant second that would have been okay, since Cruz has become a star on the national stage.  But not only did he finish fourth he trailed Ben Carson who is gaining greater national prominence but has never held public office and has avoided any discussion of any presidential aspirations.

Perry wasn’t really ready to run in 2012, and it’s still early, but to badly lose a straw poll in his home state can’t be good for his chances going forward.

 

Manatee High School in Bradenton Florida has broken new ground with the institution of a $200 premium seating fee for graduation this year, and some parents are squawking.

The school which holds its graduation ceremony at the high school’s football stadium,is instituting the fee to help defray expenses since the school system isn’t kicking in its annual $3,400 due to budgetary restrictions.

According to principal Don Sauer, the setup at the stadium costs $13,000 and that they are only selling seats in the first 10 rows and hopes to generate $3,000 towards the costs.

The other alternative according to Sauer is to hold graduation ceremonies at the convention center-which other schools do for free, but he said that would leave out 2,500 people.

Fees have become a way of life in public schools across the nation-lab fees, ACT test fees, etc… I recall paying a small cap and gown fee when I graduated from high school, but the idea of paying for “premium seating” seems outlandish to me.

Where’s the Occupy movement when you need them?

My guess is that despite the ridiculous fee that the school will probably find 15 parents with enough ego and money to cough up the $200.

But why stop there?  Maybe the school can sell personal seat licenses or legacy seating to families who will have multiple graduates over the years to guarantee them premium seating and class envy for as long as they are willing to fork over the dough.

Or why not graduation sponsors?  Get local businesses to pay for advertising on the top of the caps and back of the gowns. This should generate enough money to not only cover the graduation ceremony fees but maybe even a reception or party afterwards.

The possibilities are endless as they go down a slippery slope.

You would think a company that is in the business of helping individuals and corporations improve their public relations efforts would have known better than to send out an email chiding a basketball team for losing in the NCAA basketball tournament, but apparently someone just couldn’t resist.

The email was sent out to various PR professionals with the subject line of  Don’t be like Wichita State.

That was immediately followed in the body of the email with this:

…and not seize a big opportunity like $300 off a PR News subscription. Take your PR game and know-how to a championship level with proven communications tactics that you can implement today. This is your last chance to score big. This limited-time offer expires this Friday, March 28.

Now for those that don’t follow college basketball, Wichita State was the only undefeated team in the country, having won 35 games this season and was picked by many to make the Final Four and maybe even the championship.  That came to a screeching halt on Sunday when the Shockers (how appropriate) lost to Kentucky 78-76 ending their dream season.

That stab at Wichita State, however tongue-in-cheek in its intentions apparently upset fans of the school, causing the publisher to issue an apology:

Dear Readers,

On behalf of PR News, I wish to apologize to Wichita State University and its many basketball fans and supporters across the country for the reference to the university in our March 26 email solicitation. The subject line was inappropriate and reflected poor judgment on our part. We have taken steps to ensure such statements made in our email solicitations will not happen again.

Thank you for understanding that mistakes happen, even to those who serve the PR trade. We are humbled by the incident and appreciate your continued support.

Sincerely,
Diane Schwartz
Senior Vice President & Group Publisher, PR News

I guess that means no more basketball references.

Instead of a clever attempt to get recipients to open the email, PR News received a lot of grief instead and learned a little about PR in the process.

Chalk another victory up to the PC police.

The annual conservative lovefest is concluding today and I can’t help but feel that the conference which is now in its 42nd year is beginning to lose its luster.

There were a lot of changes this year, some seen, some unseen by the attendees, but all signaling that the conference may be running into trouble and that its long-term future may be in danger.

One of the biggest changes was that CPAC hired an outside company to handle the sponsorships and exhibits this year. With that change also came a large increase in fees for organizations to participate.

Even though the fees had been on a steady march upward they were still considered affordable by most of the organizations that I spoke with.  But this year the minimum fee to co-sponsor increased from $5,000 to $18,000.  After some howls of protest, the minimum fee was lowered to $9,000, which is still an 80% increase in one year and slightly above the rate of inflation.

Not only that, because of rumored financial issues, CPAC eliminated the Thursday night dinner and replaced it with a smaller event, decreasing the value of a sponsorship since sponsors received tickets to an albeit overpriced dinner.

CPAC also reserved fewer meeting rooms for sponsors, explaining that it was a hotel decision since they needed the rooms for other groups.  But I know that wasn’t true because a check with the hotel a few weeks before found that there were at least three meeting rooms available that weren’t part of the CPAC block.

Exhibitors this year were also subjected to newer and tighter access rules to the exhibit hall, with each exhibitor being given just two passes for their staff and with every badge being checked scrupouslly at the doors by a guy who looked like he was a bouncer from a bar.

The worst part of the exhibit rules, were the shortened hours.  Where in the past sponsors and exhibitors could access their booth early in the morning and stay into the early evening,  CPAC limited the hours to five each for the first two days and four on the last day.  That’s fourteen hours of official time compared to an estimated twenty-five in previous years.  This isn’t an activist oriented exhibit hall, but one that resembles a professional trade show and makes CPAC look very corporate.

In speaking to some long-time attendees the feeling is that the fun has gone out of CPAC.  One person I spoke to said he used to look forward to the event, but now is pretty lukewarm thanks to all the changes.

A few groups have dropped out in protest of the inclusion of GOProud, a gay Republican group, and the American Atheists –  though that invitation was rescinded after a loud protest by co-sponsors.

For those that were either priced out or were protesting the inclusions of gays and atheists there was an alternative meeting on Thursday sponsored by Breitbart called the Uninvited. It was only a one-day meeting, but it could possibly grow into the counter-CPAC if things keep going the way they have been for the last few years.

As the exhibit hall shrinks and sponsors flee, CPAC will become less important to the movement in the future as true conservative alternatives spring up to take its place.

 

Maryland exchangeWhile the failures of the federal government’s healthcare website are now legion, individual state exchanges have also had some problems and one of the biggest failures is in Maryland.

Maryland’s exchange was supposed to be a model for then nation, with outgoing Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) hoping to use it as an example of what he accomplished as part of his springboard to a potential 2016 presidential run.  O’Malley was so confident that nothing would go wrong, that he even appointed his Lt. Gov Anthony Brown to oversee the rollout in an effort to assist Brown who hopes to succeed O’Malley as governor in November.

But all has not gone well.  The exchange has been been plagued by numerous problems and a panicked O’Malley has even convinced the Democratically controlled legislature to pass emergency legislation to provide insurance for those that weren’t able to obtain coverage by January 1.  This is expected to cost the state between $5 million to $10 million and is seen by Republican legislators as both a sign of the exchange’s failure as well as an unnecessary expense.

I know these problems are real and heard from a friend of mine yesterday who was very frustrated with her experience in obtaining a new policy.

Here is what she wrote to me;

Yes, I’m one of those who had a great health plan..not through work..our premium was 1203 a month..we were told we could keep it for 2014 ONLY..at 1595 a month..whoa !! same plan ?!? ..sooo I went to md health connection…which was a 6 week endeavor…applied, enrolled in a plan…started calling CareFirst 1/3/14 to find out what was next…between the two i have over 100 hours worth of hold time…even took days off work to get this done..was told there was a glitch in getting my paperwork..then was told they were given the wrong amount..yet, they still telling me i had to pay for January …ummm..January is over…and now February is half way through…last thing i heard they had the wrong amount, also, showing no monthly credit…still waiting…i even faxed them screen shots of the my pages from md health connection website..still nothing..no change..no insurance..its infuriating !!! I’ve been trying to pay for my plan since 1/3/14…its more than scary not having coverage..i did everything the way i was “told” to do it..everything on my end done correctly..yet, I’m stuck..no one to call, no one to get answers from…

She was perfectly happy with her old plan, but couldn’t stomach a 32.5% increase in the premium for the same plan.  An increase that wasn’t uncommon for CareFirst policy  holders, and a direct result of the implementation of Obamacare.  She then went to the Maryland exchange seeking the affordable insurance that President Obama promised only to wind up in a maze of bureaucracy and without insurance.

This type of foul up has marred the O’Malley administration and provided fodder for Brown’s main Democratic challenger Doug Gansler who has been hitting Brown over the failures of the exchange, but has also been forced to walk a tight line so that he doesn’t give the Republicans the edge they desperately need in what has been a one-party state for decades.

My friend isn’t the only victim of Obamacare but could easily serve as a poster child for the failures of the program.

Hogan

With Martin O’Malley finishing up his second and final term in office Maryland voters will now face the choice of choosing a new governor giving Republicans a chance of reclaiming the governor’s mansion they lost 8 years ago.

But it won’t be easy in a state where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than 2-1 statewide as well as a distinct fundraising disadvantage.

Up until last week the Republicans had a choice among three good, but weak candidates, Harford County Executive David Craig, Del. Ron George and former congressional candidate Charles Lollar.

While they are all good men, they all suffer from having a small base of support  and aren’t very well known across the state among voters, including Republicans.

That changed last week with the much anticipated announcement  that former Ehrlich administration cabinet secretary and longtime political activist Larry Hogan was entering the race.

While Hogan’s late entry will make it even more of a challenge in the fundraising department,  he comes into the race with a huge built in advantage over his opponents- a 75,000 plus email list that he has built over the last few years through his Change Maryland organization.

As a matter of fact Hogan has been preparing for this run as soon as he started Change Maryland, by building name recognition and support and traveling throughout the state giving speeches and stumping for other candidates.

The probability that Hogan would eventually enter the race has no doubt contributed to the poor fundraising to date by his now opponents as donors have largely held off  contributing to Craig, George and Lollar in any significant fashion while waiting for Hogan to make an official announcement.  The last financial disclosure reports show that Craig has $183,000 on hand, George $15,000 and Lollar $6,000.  That pales in comparison to Democrats  Lt Gov. Anthony Brown with $7 million and Attorney General Doug Gansler with $6.3 million on hand.

With such a huge fundraising disadvantage, Hogan and the Republican Party should hope that Brown and Gansler have a knock-down-drag-out fight that will forces them to spend a large chunk of their funds and leave the primary winner, bloodied and bruised from the fight, giving Hogan an opening.

This will be a long-shot bid as they usually are for the GOP.  This isn’t like 2002 when former Rep. Bob Ehrlich became the first Republican governor since Spiro Agnew when he faced the one of the worst possible candidates the Democrats could run- Lt. Gov Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, who only added her maiden name when she thought it would help her chances.  Ehrlich subsequently lost to O’Malley twice, with the 2010 campaign being an utter disaster.

Lt. Gov. Brown isn’t a particularly strong candidate, and he has been stung by Gansler for the problems with the Maryland health exchange which O’Malley put him in charge of to help his campaign, but his connections and fundraising make him a formidable opponent.  Gansler has been planning for this run for years, and will have to work very hard to beat Brown and will also be quite formidable should he win the primary.

Rather than go through a cash-draining primary the other candidates should drop out before the primary and clear the path for Hogan.  They need to be united and not divided if they really want a legitimate shot at winning and turning back the Democratic tide that has infected the state.

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