Palin's undisclosed fee to attend college fundraiser sparks probe

Chris Rizo Apr. 9, 2010, 12:12pm

Sarah Palin (R)

Jerry Brown (D)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Legal Newsline)-California Attorney General Jerry Brown is investigating the secret financial arrangements behind Sarah Palin's scheduled appearance at a state university fundraiser this summer, officials said.

The Fox News Channel personality and former Alaska governor is scheduled to speak June 25, at a 50th anniversary gala for California State Stanislaus.

Much to the dismay of at least one Democratic state senator, details about the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee's attendance, including the amount of her speaking fee, have remained undisclosed.

Palin is rumored to be getting more than $100,000 for attending the $500-a-plate black-tie fundraiser. She reportedly earned $100,000 when she spoke at the National Tea Party Convention in Nashville this year.

The California State University Stanislaus Foundation, which is funding the dinner and dance, invited Palin. The private organization reportedly expects the event to raise $100,000 to $200,000 for Stanislaus State.

The California Faculty Association, the union representing the university system's professors, has been critical of the foundation's reticence on Palin's speaking fee. For its part, the university has said it is bound by a non-disclosure clause.

State Sen. Leland Yee, a member of the Senate's Democratic leadership, on Wednesday asked the state's attorney general to investigate the circumstances of Palin's planned attendance.

The San Francisco Democrat has accused CSU Stanislaus of violating the public trust by not disclosing the fees it will give Palin to attend and speak at the fundraiser in the San Joaquin Valley city of Turlock.

"CSU Stanislaus officials sought out Sarah Palin, negotiated her contract behind closed doors, and are now welcoming her to our public university, yet they think they are above the law in disclosing to the public the cost of her appearance," Yee said.

The senator said he went to the attorney general's office after the CSU Stanislaus Office of the President rejected his and another public-records request related to Palin's upcoming visit.

The California State University Stanislaus Foundation is not subject to the state's open-records law.

But still, Yee said state agencies are barred by state law from entering into confidentiality agreements regarding the spending of taxpayer money.

Yee has authored legislation -- Senate Bill 330 -- that would force campus foundations and schools' auxiliary organizations to comply with the California Public Records Act.

Last year, Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a similar bill.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at

More News