Chill Over Hillary and UConn Already

Call it poor timing. This week’s hullabaloo around Hillary Clinton’s speaking fee for an April appearance at UConn is unfortunate in light of tuition increases. It also has me wanting to sit you all down and give you a lesson in Fundraising 101. So sit down…

Yes, $250,000 is a ton of money, but it’s the going rate for a Clinton. Actually, I’m sort of hoping Hillary gets more than Bill because of that whole glass ceiling thing. It’s called a speaking fee. Just about every famous person has one, unless they are donating their appearance.

This brings us to donations. Donations can be categorized as “unrestricted” and “restricted.” As you might guess, unrestricted funds can be used for whatever the organization deems necessary from paying for programs to salaries to fixing the toilet. These dollars are the most helpful and what most people give.

Restricted donations are just that: RESTRICTED. A donor can designate their money to be used for a specific purpose, and that can’t be messed with unless the donor approves in writing. A donor could say that their money can be used only for building repairs, or paying for books at a library, or food at a shelter, or a specific program. One hopes the donor works with the organization when restricting a gift. It would really tie my hands if someone gave me $1 million to hold a rumba festival on Tuesdays featuring a specific band wearing blue. But, it could happen, I guess.

According to Governor Malloy and The University of Connecticut Foundation (the private fundraising arm of the school), this is exactly the case for Clinton’s speaking fee. A donor, the Edmund Fusco Family of New Haven created a fund for speakers on contemporary issues. It’s out there on the internet for the world to see. They restricted their gift to this purpose. It was their intent to fund this and only this, and neither the Foundation or school can use that money for anything else–even if they wanted to. It’s a lot of money, but it was the donor’s money and that’s what they wanted to do with it. That money can’t be used to allay tuition increases. It can’t be used on a building’s repairs or to hire professors. It. Just. Can’t.

The UConn Foundation has been pretty transparent about where the money came from, even though Malloy’s opponents are claiming otherwise.

“Diverting funds meant to benefit UConn students to political purposes is a particularly egregious violation of the public trust,” Foley said in a statement last week.

Newsflash: Clinton didn’t speak about her potential presidential run. UConn students were in attendance. Students benefited.

So, until it comes out that actual University dollars were used for this event, not just donor dollars specifically intended for this purpose, cool your jets. Let’s worry about other areas of the university that are probably hemorrhaging money and contributing to the 6.5% tuition increase. It wasn’t Clinton’s appearance.