SACRAMENTO—Students from California State University Stanislaus have uncovered several public documents pertaining to the upcoming controversial visit by former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.
The documents -- including parts of the university's speaking contract with Palin -- were found in the dumpster outside the university's administration building two days after Senator Leland Yee (D- San Francisco) and Californians Aware were denied such public information by the university, resulting in a request of the Attorney General's office to investigate.
"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," said Yee. "Found within the same files as regular university business were financial statements and documents of the CSU Stanislaus Foundation -- demonstrating that the foundation is operated by taxpayer-funded employees within the university itself. How can they possibly claim that no tax dollars are being used for the Palin event when state employees are called in on their furlough day to help avoid public scrutiny?"
"Turning over this information to the Attorney General is important so that any wrongdoing can be addressed and prevented from reoccurring in the future," said Lewis. "If this helps push for financial transparency on college campuses, then those of us involved know we did the right thing."
"My hat is off to these students who had the courage to come forward and report such information," said Yee. "They are to be commended for protecting our precious and limited public resources."
Among the documents found intact where pages 4 through 9 of the university's contract with Palin. While the actual compensation -- suspected to be nearly $100,000 -- cannot be found within the intact documents, pages 4 through 9 shows that Palin is expected to receive:
• "Round-trip, first class commercial air travel for two between Anchorage, Alaska and event city"
• Presumably for Palin's guests, "full, unrestricted round-trip coach airfare for two between event city and lower 48 US States."
• If the university chooses to use a private jet, "the Speaker, their traveling party and the plane crew will be the only passengers."
• Ground transportation in both the originating city and the event city "will be by SUV(s) from a professionally licensed and insured car service."
• "security arrangements as deemed necessary by [ Washington Speakers Bureau] and the Speaker."
• Accommodations are to include "a one-bedroom suite and two single rooms in a deluxe hotel" as well as a "laptop computer and printer (fully stocked with paper) and high speed internet" and "all meals and incidentals."
• "For Q&A, the questions are to be collected from the audience in advance, pre-screened and a designated representative shall ask questions directly of the Speaker."
• The contract also includes other stipulations regarding autographs, photographs, press releases, advertising, recording, lighting, bottled water and "bendable straws."
Among the papers found shredded are documents dated as recently as March 2010, the same date as on the Palin contract.
Today, Lewis was submitting the documents to the Attorney General's office to assist in their investigation regarding violation of the California Public Records Act (CPRA), and now potential tampering and destroying of evidence relevant to an ongoing investigation.
CSU Stanislaus Office of the President last week denied public records requests made by Yee and Californians Aware to disclose how much Palin is getting paid for an upcoming speaking engagement as well as documents and correspondence regarding the university's 50th Anniversary Gala.
The responses from Campus Compliance Officer Gina Leguria state, "The University has no documents that are responsive to your request."