Iowa State balked at Pawlenty's $25K speaking fee
AMES, Iowa (AP) — It would've cost big bucks to get Republican Tim Pawlenty to return to Ames, where his presidential campaign ended in 2011 after a poor finish at the Iowa Straw Poll.
Emails released by Iowa State University show its Harkin Institute of Public Policy wanted Pawlenty to come speak last month about Iowa's leadoff role in the presidential nominating process.
Pawlenty's agent told school officials his speaking fee was $25,000 plus expenses. Institute director Dave Peterson wrote that fee was "well beyond" what the institute could afford, but started asking others whether they could "cobble together enough" university funds from elsewhere.
Pawlenty signed on with a speaker's bureau shortly after leaving the Minnesota governor's office when his second term ended after 2010. He was building toward a run for president, which he formally launched in May 2011. He dropped his campaign that August after he finished behind Rep. Michele Bachmann and former Texas Rep. Ron Paul in the nonbinding straw poll in Ames.
It is common for notable ex-politicians to charge five figures or more per speech.
The details about Pawlenty's speaking fee were released in a trove of emails related to the Harkin Institute, which has remained controversial since its founding nearly two years ago. The institute is to house Harkin's papers from his career, perform policy research and host events, but has faced scrutiny about its operations, fundraising and research.
The idea was dropped after lectures program director Pat Miller objected to the payment. Miller argued the university has long claimed "Iowans don't pay for politicians," given the state's first-in-the-nation caucuses. She noted in an August email exchange that Pawlenty remained an active politician while making the rounds on behalf of Republican nominee Mitt Romney.
"Would he even draw an audience justifying that fee when he has already spoken repeatedly all over the state?" Miller asked.
Terry Nelson, a former senior Pawlenty adviser, wound up taking part in the forum.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.