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Palin's CSU Contract Boosts Leland Yee's Disclosure Crusade

Sarah Palin will get first-class airfare for two and three rooms at a luxury hotel when she gives a speech in June for a university foundation.

And organizers better not forget to stock her lectern with two water bottles and bendable straws.

The details of Palin’s contract with the California State University, Stanislaus Foundation were contained in five pages of the document retrieved from a campus trash bin by students who heard administrators might be shredding documents related to the speech.

State Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, who has been seeking details of Palin’s compensation package for several weeks, provided copies of the paperwork Tuesday.

Among other perks, the former Alaska governor will fly first class from Anchorage to California — if she flies commercial. If not, “the private aircraft MUST BE a Lear 60 or larger …,” the contract specifies. Palin also must be provided with a suite and two single rooms in a deluxe hotel near the campus in Turlock in the Central Valley.

The document, dated March 16, does not include compensation details for Palin, who commands speaking fees as high as $100,000. Her appearance at the university’s 50th anniversary gala is expected to draw a large crowd, with tickets selling for $500 each.

The students said they acted on a tip that documents were being shredded last Friday, when campus staff members were supposed to be on furlough.

“I was informed that there was suspicious activity taking place at the administration building, which I found very alarming,” said 23-year-old Ashli Briggs, a junior at the school.

Briggs contacted senior Alicia Lewis, 26, who went with several other students to investigate. The building was locked and gated, but the students were able to retrieve piles of paperwork, including the contract document, from a nearby trash bin, Lewis said.

The contract pages, dated March 16, have Washington Speakers Bureau printed at the top and a contract number. The speakers bureau did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Yee called the incident “a dark day for the CSU.”

“This is our little Watergate in the state of California,” he said Tuesday at a news conference where he was joined by Briggs and Lewis.

The university did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Associated Press. The foundation uses the university media relations office to respond to inquiries.

The CSU Stanislaus Foundation previously denied the AP’s request to release details of Palin’s contract under the California Public Records Act.

Last week, the university responded to a similar public records request by Yee by saying it did not have any documents related to Palin’s appearance and had referred the matter to foundation board president Matt Swanson.

The next day, Swanson sent letters to both Yee and the AP stating that Palin’s contract includes a strict nondisclosure clause. University foundations and other auxiliary organizations were not subject to the same public records requirements as the university itself, he said.

Yee disputed the claim, pointing to significant overlap between the university and its foundation arm. For example, he noted, all but one member of the foundation staff and several officers from its board are university employees, and the foundation headquarters is located in the administration building where the students said the document shredding was taking place.

To eliminate any legal loopholes, Yee is sponsoring a bill that would require campus foundations and auxiliary organizations to adhere to public records requirements. The measure passed the Senate in January and awaits an Assembly hearing.

On Tuesday, Briggs and Lewis gave the state attorney general’s office material they said came from the trash bins, including two boxes of documents and two trash bags filled with shredded files.

The office is reviewing Yee’s request for an investigation into allegations that the university violated the California Public Records Act.

The attorney general’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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Comment

lily · Apr 13, 06:53 PM · #

OH YES