PUBLIC INFORMATION — "Sarah Palin leveled criticism at Californias attorney general and others raising questions about her visit to a cash-strapped university, telling supporters that students had better things to do than dive through Dumpsters to find out how much she earns speaking," reports Garance Burke for the Associated Press. The university's foundation, which sponsored the event, said the net proceeds were $200,000. But despite a lawsuit the university has never released records of its costs.
The former Alaska governors headline address Friday night at the 50th anniversary celebration at California State University, Stanislaus has drawn criticism and scrutiny since it was first announced. It also attracted sizable donations for the public
Officials have refused to divulge the terms of her contract or her speaking fee, and some details only came to light after students fished part of what appeared to be Palins contract from a rubbish bin.
Students who spent their valuable, precious time diving through dumpsters before this event in order to silence someone what a wasted resource, she told the crowd dining in the campus cafeteria.
A suggestion for those Dumpster divers: Instead of trying to tell people to sit down and shut up spend some time telling people like our president to finally stand up, she said.
The material recovered by the students, which detailed perks such as first-class airfare for two and deluxe hotel accommodations, prompted California Attorney General Jerry Brown to launch an investigation into the finances of the universitys foundation arm and allegations that the nonprofit violated public disclosure laws.
Jerry Brown and friends, come on. This is California, Palin retorted. Do you not have anything else to do?
The California Democrat said Palin was wrong to politicize the inquiry, which he said would be objective.
I dont think she understands the process, he said Friday. Its about the operation of the foundation to see if they handled things professionally.
Officials say the university foundation that organized the fundraiser is legally exempt from public records requirements.
Fridays sold-out dinner will bring in more than $200,000, making the gala the most successful fundraiser in the universitys history, said university foundation board president Matt Swanson.
Were not here to make a political statement, were here to make money, Swanson said.
The funds will help pay for scholarships and a variety of pressing campus needs, which the foundation will determine after consulting with university officials, officials said.
In preparation for the 2008 Republican vice-presidential candidates arrival, workers transformed the dining hall into a glitzy gala hall, draped with crimson tablecloths, festooned with orchids and surrounded by chain-link fences.
We cannot believe the stuff that has gone on with our campus over Sarah Palins visit, said Alicia Lewis, 26, who was one of the team that retrieved the paperwork from a trash container in April. Now theyre fencing the campus off? Its outrageous.
University spokeswoman Eve Hightower said the extensive fencing and extra security were standard procedure for large campus events and said the university had remained open to students going to class.
Last month, CSU Stanislaus released dozens of documents in response to California Public Records Act requests from The Associated Press and the open-government group Californians Aware.
The paperwork included e-mails documenting the universitys efforts to limit public fallout over Palins visit, but it did not include information about her contract. Palin has commanded fees as high as $100,000.
About 100 protesters stood outside on the campuss leafy grounds raising up a Sarah Palin-shaped pinata and signs lettered Spill, Baby, Spill and Open The Books, and chanting about school budget cuts.
I was expecting quite a few protests, said Palin, who was accompanied by her daughter Willow. Its been nothing but absolute loveliness here in this part of California, in spite of some of the hoopla around this dinner.
The rural university, like dozens of other public colleges, has had to cut some classes and cancel several scholarships as a result of Californias ongoing financial woes.
A group of about 30 Palin supporters from local tea party chapters also came to campus Friday afternoon, waving large American flags and carrying placards that read Support Free Speech.
Palin has endorsed former Hewlett-Packard Co. chief executive Carly Fiorina in her bid to unseat Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, but a Fiorina spokeswoman said Palin would not be making any stops on behalf of the campaign.
Governor Palin's remarks are on video here and in transcript form here. Meanwhile the public records access lawsuit by Californians Aware continues, with a hearing in Stanislaus County Superior Court set for July 16. Despite the lawsuit seeking any university records dealing with the Palin visit, nothing has been produced showing what, if anything, the university is billing the foundation for its personnel, materials and service contractor costs for the event.