Clinton Fundraiser Charges $500 to Join 'Conversation with Chelsea'

Zach Montanaro | September 19, 2016

Would you like to join a “Conversation with Chelsea” at Penn State University?

Great! That will be $500, please. Minimum.

Students at Penn State were told Chelsea Clinton would be appearing at the State College Democratic Coordinated Campaign Headquarters for two events. One of the events was a phone bank while the other was a “Conversation with Chelsea.”

The phone bank was free of charge. How nice of them.

The $500 was just the lowest tier one had to pay to get access to speak to a Clinton, however. A $1,000 donation would get you a picture with Clinton, and $2,700 (the legal limit someone can donate to a campaign) would let you host a reception with the former first daughter and have a personal conversation with her.

Compared to the millions and millions of dollars that her parents have earned in speaking fees, $500 must be the deal of a lifetime, right?

Not exactly. Ethan Paul, the vice president of the College Progressives of Penn State spoke out against this seemingly pay-to-play tactic:

Although we certainly support Chelsea's right to campaign on her mother's behalf, we do not agree with Mrs. Clinton choosing to make this ‘conversation’ available exclusively to individuals who can afford or are willing to pay at least $500. [...] It is particularly deplorable that a $2,700 donation — the legal limit — gets a personal conversation with Mrs. Clinton.

He wasn’t the only College Progressive to voice displeasure at this either. The secretary of the same group, Kathryn Van Develde, opined:

While I understand the need for fundraising, putting a paywall between the general public and this ‘conversation’ it is not the campaign I like to see. [...] This is especially true given this is a college town. Putting such an expensive price on involvement in elections really hurts college students who already feel there is no point to politics.

As a recovering college grad myself, I can attest that $500 is a lot of money for a college student to dish out, especially if it doesn’t even guarantee you something as small as a picture with a Clinton.

For reference, a student could buy a new Playstation 4 and still have money left over for three games and lunch before they hit the minimum asking price for the privilege of listening to Chelsea speak.

In fairness, those price “tiers” are fairly common-place for campaigns whenever they have fundraisers not meant for big-dollar donors. It isn’t common, however, to ask college students to pony up that kind of money when they are already paying out the nose for tuition.

So if you want to talk to Chelsea about all those ideas her mother has about somehow making college free, you are welcome to come give your input. Just pay $2,700 first.