"It's our little Watergate here in the state of California," State Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, said.
Two Cal State Stanislaus students are feeding more fire to the already controversial visit of Sarah Palin, who is speaking at their campus in June to celebrate the school's 50th anniversary at a $500 a plate fundraiser.
After getting a tip, they went dumpster diving outside the administration building last week.
"We knew something was not right; they were there on a Furlough Friday, and it was shredding of documents," student Ashli Briggs said.
"We ended up finding pages 4 to 9 of the Sarah Palin contract that our school said they didn't have," student Alicia Lewis said.
Those pages do not specifically name Palin, but the terms include:
- First Class tickets for two from her home state of Alaska
- A Lear 60 jet or bigger, if event organizers want to use a private plane instead
- A one-bedroom suite, plus two rooms in deluxe accommodations
- Bottled water with bendable straws at the podium
The CSU Stanislaus Foundation, which does not use taxpayer money, refuses to say how much it is paying Palin, though her typical appearance fee is $100,000.
We believe, at this time, it is not our requirement legally to produce these documents," CSU Stanislaus Foundation President Matt Swanson said.
It is not unprecedented for Cal State or UC campuses to spend big bucks on high profile speakers. The foundation paid retired Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf $90,000 to speak back in 2002 and UC Merced relied partly on foundations last year to pay the $1 million security tab for first lady Michelle Obama's commencement speech. (She did not take a fee.)
Yee insists his push for more open records at public university foundations is not motivated because Palin is a polarizing Republican, but critics are not so sure.
"It's purely political, and I understand why, the name Sarah Palin draws a lot of attention," Swanson said.
The past year has been lucrative for Palin, she has made $12 million since stepping down as governor of Alaska in July 2009.