03/06/2013 02:12 pm ET Updated Mar 06, 2013

What Cory Booker Does With $1 Million He's Earned From Speaking Gigs

Cory Booker could make some sweet side cash from his speaking engagements, but he chooses to donate it instead.

The mayor of Newark has earned about $1 million during his seven years in office for sharing his thoughts at public events, but has pocketed “very little of it,” he told The New York Times. Booker said that he donates the funds to organizations in need.

The generous politician, for example, made $40,000 at a recent event and donated it to Integrity House, a New Jersey-based drug-treatment center, The Times reported.

While Booker’s intentions seem benevolent, some critics question whether it’s ethical for a sitting elected official to accept such exorbitant funds, particularly from public institutions, and for hiring a glitzy agency to book his engagements.

Back in 2010, Booker –- who earns $135,000 a year -- spoke at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) for a fee of $10,000, according to Politicker NJ. Though the well-known orator donated the money to soup kitchens, homeless shelters and other Newark-based nonprofits, some still chastised him for accepting such a fat check.

"Considering his rhetoric, which emphasized the importance of universal education, it seems a bit contradictory that the 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," Gary Bethea wrote in an op-ed for the Perspective after the 2010 event.

But Booker seems to see no contradiction involved. He told the Times that his primary reason for pursuing such speaking opportunities is to “drive money in every way possible toward nonprofit endeavors.”



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