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Trashed document not Palin pact, college says

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Paperwork lifted from a Dumpster by students at California State University, Stanislaus was not part of Sarah Palin's speaking contract, but an earlier version of the agreement, campus President Hamid Shirvani said Wednesday.

"Somebody took pages four to nine of an earlier contract, unsigned, that the vice president for advancement threw in her recycling trash bin," Shirvani said as he spoke on the matter for the first time. "This is not the contract. There's no price on it."

Shirvani denied any wrongdoing on the university's part. He said he would cooperate fully with Attorney General Jerry Brown, who on Tuesday announced an investigation into allegations by a state senator that the campus improperly dumped not only the Palin contract, but other financial paperwork that public agencies, by law, are supposed to keep in their files.

Palin, the former governor of Alaska and vice presidential candidate, is to speak June 25 at the Turlock campus for a campus fundraiser hosted by the CSU Stanislaus Foundation, a private nonprofit.

The controversy over her contract erupted last month after the foundation denied a request by state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, to learn how much Palin would be paid. Yee is sponsoring a bill to require private university foundations to comply with the state Public Records Act.

Yee argues that the public university and its private foundation are so intertwined as to make them one and the same.

Shirvani, who serves as both campus president and chairman of the foundation's board, acknowledged Wednesday that foundation business is conducted out of campus offices.

Nevertheless, he said, the foundation is not required to make public its paperwork, including the Palin contract, which includes a confidentiality clause. He did say the foundation would never again sign a contract with a confidentiality clause.

"This is a lesson learned," Shirvani said.

On Tuesday, a group of students appeared at a news conference in Sacramento with Yee and a mountain of documents, including bank stubs, financial spreadsheets and five pages of what appeared to be Palin's contract - that the students had taken out of a campus Dumpster Friday.

The March 16 contract specified that the speaker, traveling from Anchorage, Alaska, would need a pair of first-class airline tickets and accommodations in a deluxe hotel. Two additional business-class tickets would be needed to fly elsewhere.

Shirvani emphasized that no matter what Palin's fee is, her appearance at the $500-a-plate dinner will bring in, after expenses, $100,000 to $200,000 for the foundation. The foundation pays for student scholarships and professors' salaries in the form of endowed chairs.

"This is not about how much money we're paying Gov. Palin," Shirvani said. "This is about political ideology. If we had invited Michael Moore or Al Gore, we'd have nobody asking how much we're paying them.

"We're being used as a political pawn for Sen. Yee because he's so obsessed with passing his bill."

Yee's spokesman, Adam Keigwin, agreed that the dispute is about the bill because documents housed at the university should be public.

"It's as if I'm working on Leland Yee's campaign from my desk here at the Senate," Keigwin said. "It's laughable. What's to stop (university officials) from not disclosing anything by just claiming it's foundation work?"

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/04/14/BAG31CUTIO.DTL#ixzz0l8lb66UJ