When Sarah Palin delivers her $500-per-ticket June 25 speech at Cal State Stanislaus
, it promises to be a bargain: That's only about $25 per "um."
For the CSU Stanislaus Foundation, however, it may not be such a bargain. Palin's going rate is purportedly around $100,000 per speech ($5,000 per "um"). State Senator Leland Yee of San Francisco this morning fired off a letter demanding the foundation disclose how much money it's forking over to the former vice-presidential candidate turned news commentator turned soon-to-be reality TV star.
CSU officials, Yee says, have so far refused to drop a dime on Palin's price tag, citing a clause in her contract forbidding them to do so. But Yee argues this is essentially public money -- and he's willing to make that argument in court.
"At the end of the day, it's still a public institution," said Yee's chief of staff, Adam Keigwin. "Even if the money is not from taxpayers, we still interpret it as public dollars. Her going rate is $100,000 per appearance, and you can imagine how many students could to CSU for that."
If Yee is hoping to hold the CSU Stanislaus Foundation to the same standard as CSU Stanislaus when it comes to disclosing public records, however, he's got an uphill battle to fight.
Earlier this decade, the Fresno Bee sued Fresno State University's booster group, hoping to use the California Public Records Act to obtain documents tying donors to the school auxiliary organization to preferential leases for suites at the school's sports arena. A judge ruled, however, that booster groups are not subject to public records requests.
Last year, Yee authored a senate bill that would change all that; it passed both houses but was vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. He's submitted a near-identical bill this year. It sailed through the senate, 35-1, and is due for a hearing in the Assembly. "We're giving [the governor] a second chance to do the right thing," said Keigwin.
Is the safe money on Schwarzenegger whipping out the veto pen again? You betcha.