Secret Fundraising

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When former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin came to California earlier this summer to be the keynote speaker at a fundraising event for California State University, Stanislaus, California gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown launched an investigation. Exactly how much was Palin getting paid to show up in Turlock, Calif.? What were the terms of her contract anyway? CSU Stanislaus refused to make the details public, explaining that it was a clause in the contract itself that forced the public college to keep the true financial information a secret.

Actually no, ruled Judge Roger Beauchesne yesterday. According to an article by Joe Eskenazi in SF Weekly:

…Beauchesne issued the declaratory judgment sought by CalAware, a nonprofit government transparency advocate that sued California State University Stanislaus earlier this year. The judge claimed the school violated the state’s Public Records Act by refusing to disclose Palin’s contract; he ordered CSU Stanislaus to turn it over — and pay CalAware’s legal tab.

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.

Both Yee and Brown, currently the state’s attorney general, argued that because CSU Stanislaus was public college, fundraising details like these should be made public.

According to the ruling:

The reasonable inference from the evidence produced is that the University, in its official capacity, has ‘used’ the contract between the Washington Speaker’s Bureau (with Ms. Palin and the CSU Foundation) in the conduct of the public’s business; therefore, said contract is also a public record and should have been produced to Petitioner.

The school still refuses to turn over the contract, arguing that actually doesn’t possess the document at all.

CSU Stanislaus reportedly paid Palin $75,000 for her 34-minute speech. [Image via]

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer