During his seven years in office, Newark Mayor Cory Booker has grossed about $1 million in public speaking fees and has donated most of it to charities, according to published reports.
“Even though I am entitled to keep it,” Booker told The New York Times, “I’ve given away hundreds and hundreds of thousands. I’ve kept very little of it, if any.”
Booker, whose salary is around $135,000 per year, told The Times that he has “definitely” made more from giving speeches than he makes from his salary. But, in the end, with all of the donations that he has made, he says, “it’s not that much money.”
Booker said he speaks mainly to educational institutions and nonprofit groups. According to The Times, he spoke to a local preparatory school for $25,000 and that same day wrote a check to a nonprofit organization. He also earned $40,000 for speaking at an event, but donated the money to Integrity House, which is a drug-treatment center.
According to The Huffington Post, Booker accepted $10,000 for a speech at The College of New Jersey and he was criticized for doing so.
“Considering his rhetoric, which emphasized the importance of universal education, it seems a bit contradictory that they mayor would require taxpayer-funded TCNJ to hand over thousands of its scarce, tuition-garnered dollars for a ninety-minute presentation – especially in the midst of an ongoing recession that has forced the college to furlough professors and cut services,” said Gary Edwards Bethea in an op-ed in The Perspective.
In response, Booker’s communications chief Desiree Peterkin Bell said, “The mayor has never accepted an honorarium from New Jersey public institutions.”
The money from TCNJ, she said, " was donated to soup kitchens, homeless shelters and other Newark nonprofits.”
Booker told The Times that the main purpose he accepts money is so he “can drive money in every way possible toward nonprofit endeavors.”