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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Brown to expand investigation of Palin’s Cal State contract

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The controversy surrounding Sarah Palin’s upcoming speech at California State University, Stanislaus took a bizarre turn Tuesday when two students said they had found part of her confidential contract in a campus trash bin.

    By day’s end, California Attorney GeneralJerry Brownhad vowed to expand his investigation of the nonprofit foundation that financially supports Cal State Stanislaus, looking into how the documents wound up in a trash container and whether the foundation is properly managing its $20 million in assets.

    Palin’s contract with the foundation has been the source of intrigue since the announcement late last month that the former Republican vice presidential candidate and Alaska governor is coming to Turlock for a university fundraiser on June 25.

    Foundation officials have said the contract with Palin prohibits disclosure of her payment, and Palin critics – including some faculty, students and a San Francisco lawmaker – have been trying to get their hands on the contract through all kinds of official tactics.

    Turns out trash bin-diving was more effective than filing a Public Records Act request.

    “”I mean, who expected to go into a Dumpster and find, intact, the Sarah Palin contract? No one expected that,”” saidAshli Briggs, a 23-year-old student who presented the document at a Capitol news conference Tuesday.

    As of Tuesday evening, officials at the university and its foundation said they hadn’t seen the pages in question and hadn’t determined if they were legitimate or who might have thrown them away.

    The hot question – how much the foundation is paying Palin for her speech – is not answered in the pages the students found. Palin reportedly receives up to $100,000 per appearance.

    The students uncovered what appear to be the last six pages of a nine-page contract, none of which mentions Palin by name. But the pages say the speaker requests “”round-trip, first-class commercial air travel for two between Anchorage, Alaska, and event city.”” The customer can instead provide a private plane, the contract says, if it is “”a Lear 60 or larger.””

    The contract is dated March 16 and printed on letterhead from the Washington Speakers Bureau, which represents Palin. It says the customer must provide the speaker and her party with a “”one-bedroom suite and two single rooms in a deluxe hotel.””

    Media coverage must be tightly controlled, according to the contract. It’s up to the speaker to approve any recording, and photography is limited to the first three minutes of the speech and a highly orchestrated photo-op for audience members to have their picture taken with the speaker. The contract includes a diagram showing how furniture should be arranged for the photo shoot with audience members.

    During her speech, the speaker requests two bottles of water and bendable straws.

    The contract pages were presented at a news conference called by state Sen.Leland Yee, a Democrat, along with two garbage bags of shredded documents the students said they also found in the trash container Friday.

    It was a furlough day for the campus, and Briggs – who has appeared on Fox News objecting to Palin’s visit – said she got a tip that some unusual activity was taking place. She said she and a few other students went to investigate and found people carrying bags of garbage out of the administration building.

    Yee says the timing is suspicious. Earlier in the week, in response to a Public Records Act request he had sent the university asking for Palin’s contract, officials told him they didn’t have it.

    “”It is truly shocking and a gross violation of the public trust that such documents would be thrown away and destroyed during a pending investigation,”” Yee said Tuesday in a statement.

    Yee has made an issue of the relationship many private foundations have with the public universities they support. He is the author of Senate Bill 330, which would subject the foundations to the same disclosure rules as the universities. Right now they are considered private businesses that do not have to make their documents public.

    University and foundation officials called Yee’s accusations baseless and said the senator was grandstanding for political purposes.

    “”Let me make it clear,”” saidRuss Giambelluca, the university’s vice president of business and finance. “”No one on this campus was advised to shred documents of critical importance.””

    Giambelluca said the university routinely discards documents. “”We are an institution that sees lots of papers,”” he said. “”Every day we purge.””

    He said he had not seen the contract presented at the news conference and could not verify it was Palin’s.

    The attorney general’s office will try to answer that question. Brown released a statement late Tuesday saying it “”has launched a broad investigation into the California State University Stanislaus Foundation to include an examination of its finances and the alleged dumping of documents into a university Dumpster. …

    “”We are taking this action to make sure that the money raised goes toward the intended educational purposes and not a dollar is wasted or misspent,”” Brown said in the statement.


    Modesto Bee staff writerPatty Guerracontributed to this report.

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