CSU ordered to release $75k Palin contract
SACRAMENTO – A California university on Thursday released Sarah Palin’s contract for a June speech in order to comply with a court order.
California State University, Stanislaus, made the nine-page document public after saying earlier in the day that it did not have a copy.
The school said it obtained the contract from its nonprofit foundation arm, which handled the negotiations with the Washington Speakers Bureau to arrange the former Alaska governor’s appearance at a fundraiser.
Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Roger Beauchesne on Monday ordered CSU to hand over the contract, along with other documents related to Palin’s June 25 appearance at the university’s Turlock campus. The open-government group Californians Aware had filed a lawsuit in April accusing the university of violating its disclosure obligations under the California Public Records Act.
The contract, dated March 18, includes Palin’s $75,000 speaking fee-an amount the foundation made public in July. Other requests include first-class airfare for two from Anchorage to California-if she flies commercial. If not, “the private aircraft MUST BE a Lear 60 or larger …,” the contract specified.
The contract also said Palin must be provided with a suite and two single rooms in a deluxe hotel near the Central Valley campus. During her speech, her lectern must be stocked with two unopened water bottles and bendable straws.
The CSU Stanislaus Foundation ultimately spent about $2,500 on Palin’s hotel, security and a portion of her transportation to and from the small town of Turlock, spokeswoman Eve Hightower said last month.
A donor flew Palin in via private jet, and she paid for her own hair appointment, Hightower said.
School officials said in July the fundraiser raised more than $207,000 for the university, making it the most successful fundraiser in campus history.
The foundation previously said it was unable to reveal any details about the contract because of a strict nondisclosure clause. That clause, outlined on page 7, specifies that Palin’s compensation and “special requirements” must remain private.
Hightower said foundation president Matt Swanson did not consult the speakers’ bureau before releasing the document to the university to be made public Thursday afternoon. The speakers’ bureau did not immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday evening from The Associated Press.
“The foundation is doing what must be done to put any lingering issues to rest,” Hightower said.
The university has said all negotiations surrounding the event fell to its foundation, which is not subject to the same public records requirements that apply to California’s higher education institutions. The judge did not dispute that claim, but said CSU’s use of the contract made it part of the public record and subject to disclosure. He did not specify what he meant by “use.”
Thursday marked the first time the full contract had been released. Five pages detailing Palin’s transportation, accommodation and other demands appeared to be identical to a document CSU Stanislaus students claimed to have pulled from a campus trash bin in April. That document was dated March 16.
At the time, university president Hamid Shirvani said he believed the document was stolen from a recycling bin in a campus administrator’s office.
The incident prompted an investigation by the state attorney general’s office, which also examined the foundation’s finances. The office recently announced it had found no violation of state law upon examining the foundation’s fundraising practices, and spokesman Jim Finefrock confirmed Thursday that the investigation was complete.
In addition, the Stanislaus County District Attorney in May cleared the school of intentionally destroying documents and found no wrongdoing by any students.
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