NEWS: Former President George W. Bush was paid $100,000 to speak at a charity fundraiser for wounded veterans in 2012.
Former President George W. Bush was paid $100,000 to speak at a 2012 charity fundraiser event for "Helping a Hero," an organization that raises money for wounded veterans, officials from the charity confirmed to ABC News on 8 July 2015. According to those officials, the speaking fee was justified for two reasons: Bush had reduced his usual speaking fee of $250,000 to $100,000 for the event (a 2011 article pegged Bush's standard speaking fee at between $100,000 and $150,000), and the former President helped bring in a record level of contributions to the charity:
According to the charity’s yearly reports to the IRS, it raised about $2,450,000, after expenses, from the 2012 gala where President Bush spoke. The following year, the gala netted the charity substantially less, about $1,000,000.
The Helping a Hero organization also took to Twitter to say that they were honored to have had President Bush as a speaker:
Others, however, felt that the former president should have waived his speaking fee for an event of this nature:
For him to be paid to raise money for veterans that were wounded in combat under his orders, I don’t think that’s right,” said former Marine Eddie Wright, who lost both hands in a rocket attack in Fallujah, Iraq in 2004.
“You sent me to war,” added Wright speaking of the former President. “I was doing what you told me to do, gladly for you and our country and I have no regrets. But it’s kind of a slap in the face.”
Bush spokesperson Freddy Ford confirmed that Bush was paid $100,000 to speak at the event, and added that "President Bush has made helping veterans one of his highest priorities in his post presidency.”
George W. Bush isn't the only prominent U.S. politician to come under fire recently over speaking fees. In 2014, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was criticized for accepting $225,000 fee for a speaking engagement at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Clinton responded to the controversy by declaring that she would donate the money to the Clinton Foundation charity.