University 'welcomes' AG's probe into Palin contract

By Chris Rizo | Apr 15, 2010

Sarah Palin (R)

Jerry Brown (D)

TURLOCK, Calif. (Legal Newsline)-The president of California State University Stanislaus says he "welcomes" an investigation of the campus's foundation by Attorney General Jerry Brown.

The attorney general's probe stems from Sarah Palin's scheduled appearance at a university fundraiser this summer, and the fees that the California State University Stanislaus Foundation is paying the former Alaska governor to attend.

In addition to investigating the secret financial arrangements behind Palin's scheduled appearance at the 50th anniversary gala for California State Stanislaus on June 25, Brown is also probing allegations that the university illegally discarded documents related to the contract.

On Wednesday, university President Hamid Shirvani disclosed that a five-page contract between Palin and the California State University Stanislaus Foundation, which is funding the dinner and dance, was taken from a recycling bin inside the office of CSU Stanislaus Foundation Executive Director Susana Gajic-Bruyea.

The allegedly stolen documents, officials said, were an earlier version of Palin Washington Speakers Bureau contract. The papers made their way to a state Capitol press conference Tuesday called by Democratic state Sen. Leland Yee of San Francisco, who for weeks has been seeking details of Palin's compensation package.

"We welcome the investigation and expect it will clarify how a foundation document could have ended up in a state senator's hands," Shirvani said in a statement.

For its part, the university has said it is bound by a non-disclosure clause to keep confidential Palin's fee, which will not be paid with public money, officials said. She is rumored to be getting more than $100,000 to attend and speak at the $500-a-plate black-tie fundraiser.

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.

Yee asked the state's attorney general to investigate Palin's contract, after the CSU Stanislaus Office of the President rejected his and another public-records request related to Palin's upcoming appearance.

Yee 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.

The California State University Stanislaus Foundation, as a 501c3 foundation, is not subject to the state's open-records law.

Shirvani suggested that some critics are raising a ruckus over the confidential contract because they might disagree with Palin's politics.

"The CSU Stanislaus Foundation is not interested in political theater or in being used as a political pawn. Its mission is to raise money to support the university, and it is doing just that by bringing a speaker to campus like Sarah Palin who is driving ticket sales to unprecedented levels," Shirvani said.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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