PUBLIC INFORMATION —
"Is the open
government ruckus over Sarah Palins speaking fee in Turlock sputtering toward
a conclusion?", asks Lance Williams, blogging for California Watch,
referring to a CSU Stanislaus attorney's disclosure that a search of university
files had found nearly 900 pages concerning Governor Palin's invitation to
speak at a campus-related fundraiser.
He says thats utterly at odds with the universitys initial response to queries that were filed under terms of the Public Records Act, the states open records law.
At first, Francke recalls, the university said it didnt have a single piece of paper about Palin's June 25 speech on campus.
It referred queries to the CSU Stanislaus Foundation. The foundation, which booked Palin for the event, signed a contract with the former Alaska governor and darling of the tea-party movement agreeing not to disclose how much shes getting paid.(Critics suspect its more than $100,000.)
The foundation also claims to be exempt from the Public Records Act.Francke said the universitys claim that it had absolutely no documents about Palin never made much sense.Then, last month, the universitys claim was badly undercut by its alleged involvement in the so-called shred-a-thon. State Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, accused CSU officials of shredding public document about the Palin speech.
Students had come to Yee with shredded documents they said they recovered from a dumpster near the administration building on a "furlough Friday," when the campus was deserted. The documents included part of Palins contract although not the page that details the fee.
The shredding got the attention of the state attorney generals office, which launched a probe of the foundation.
Now, Francke says the university has offered to make relevant documents available soon.
Lawyer Kelly Aviles, who is handling the courtroom work for Californians Aware, said she wasnt optimistic that Palins contract would be in the trove.
I would highly doubt it, she said. She said she expects the CSU will continue to resist disclosing the contract, and the whole thing will wind up in court after Palin has come and gone.
CSU Stanislaus legal fees are being paid by the taxpayers. If Californians Aware wins its lawsuit, state law will require the taxpayers to pay the groups legal costs as well.