George W. Bush charged veterans’ group $100,000 for speech

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Former President George W. Bush charged a veterans’ group $100,000 to speak at an event for service members who had losts limbs in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Bush also billed the group, the Texas-based Helping a Hero charity, $20,000 for the use of a private jet to attend the event. Laura Bush, the former first lady, was paid $50,000 to speak to the group last year.

Meredith Iler, the former chairwoman of Helping a Hero, justified the fee by saying that Bush’s presence helped bring in more donations. She also said that the $100,000 figure represented a more-than-fifty-percent reduction in his typical rate.

“It was great because he reduced his normal fee of $250,000 down to $100,000,” she told ABC News.

Contrary to Iler’s claim, Politico found that Bush typically charged $100,000 to $175,000 during the time period in which he spoke at the Helping a Hero event.

Donald Trump, who is running for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination against Bush’s younger brother Jeb, wasted no time blasting the 43rd president.

A Helping a Hero board member called the fee a “slap in the face” in a statement to ABC.”

“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 Eddie Wright, a former Marine. Wright lost both of his hands in a 2004 rocket attack in Iraq.

Former President Bill Clinton, whose wife is running in 2016, has also been criticized for his lucrative post-presidency speaking career, but a Clinton spokesperson told ABC that the former Democratic president has never charged a speaking fee for addressing a veterans group.

Photo via LBJ Foundation/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

William Turton

William Turton

Once named one of Forbes’ 20 Under 20 and hired as a staff writer for the Daily Dot when he was still a senior in high school, William Turton is a rising tech reporter focusing on information security, hacking culture, and politics. Since leaving the Daily Dot in April 2016, his work has appeared on Gizmodo, the Outline, and Vice News Tonight on HBO.