A Stanislaus County Judge this week ruled that the state university system broke the law by obscuring how much money -- and how many bendy straws -- it shelled out to lure Sarah Palin to CSU Stanislaus for a June fundraiser.
Palin's appearance at the Turlock campus hit the news in March when San Francisco's state Sen. Leland Yee requested her speaking fee -- and was rebuffed. The story blew up into "Palingate," however, after the university claimed it couldn't respond to public records requests for the contract between Stanislaus and the former Republican vice presidential candidate because such documents didn't exist -- but a pair of students found a contract with an unknown speaker needing a flight from Alaska in a dumpster among papers university officials had been shredding on a furlough Friday. Other highlights on the contract recovered from the dumpster:
the university were to hire a private jet, "the Speaker, their
traveling party and the plane crew will be the only passengers."
also includes other stipulations regarding autographs, photographs,
press releases, advertising, recording, lighting, bottled water and
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. In that case, a judge ruled that booster groups are
not subject to public records requests.
It was recently disclosed, however, that CSU so commingles its public and private funds that it cannot tell them apart. A Yee bill that would subject university booster groups to the public records act has passed both houses of the legislature and will soon garner the governor's yea or nay.
And, finally, if you think San Francisco voters might be generous toward a an oft-rumored mayoral candidate who scored a high-profile victory over state secrecy and Sarah Palin -- you're right. You betcha.
Update, 11:55 a.m.: Terry Francke, the general counsel for CalAware, said he doesn't know yet how much was spent fighting this case. He estimates it was in the "tens of thousands." As for how much CSU Stanislaus spent, that, he notes, is a matter of public record.
SF Weekly is preparing a public records request.
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