Sarah Palin Costs Released by CSU Stanislaus -- Sort of

Categories: Politics
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How much did CSU Stanislaus really spend to accommodate Sarah Palin?
Responding to a public records request from SF Weekly, the California State University system has sent along an "event accounting summary" of June's controversial appearance by Sarah Palin at CSU Stanislaus.

Yet the one-page summary is hardly a complete accounting -- and hasn't come close to satiating critics who assailed the university for hiding Palin's fee and the costs associated with the fund-raiser.

The CSU document claims the university system spent $265,735 on the event, and brought in $468,035 -- a profit of $202,300. Among other expenses, it paid Palin $75,000 for three hours of work, and also spent $2,500 to put her up at the Double Tree in Modesto.

You can read the document here: Palin event accounting summary.pdf

Not included, however, are the costs of university employees working on the public dime to set up this event. Also unaccounted for are the legal costs of unsuccessfully defending a lawsuit by the open government group CalAware, which forced disclosure of a bevy of documents regarding the the event and its costs. CalAware's executive director, Terry Francke, said he expects his own legal tab to be in the "tens of thousands" -- and that will be paid by the CSU system.

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Bendy straws of the sort Sarah Palin's contract demanded can be had for $8.25 for a package of 160, incidentally
The Palin speech first hit the news March, when San Francisco state Sen. Leland Yee demanded to know how much this was costing the CSU system -- and, citing a confidentiality clause in the contract with Palin, university officials rebuffed him. The case took a turn for the bizarre when, days after Stanislaus officials told Yee documents he'd requested didn't exist, students found them in a dumpster along with materials that had been shredded by university employees en masse on a furlough Friday. That spurred an investigation by the state Attorney General's office and led to CalAware's lawsuit.

Yee's Chief of Staff, Adam Keigwin, was less than thrilled with Stanislaus' most recent "disclosure."

"This isn't enough," he said. "There are no salaries in there for public employees who are also working for the Stanislaus Foundation" -- the university's private, auxiliary group, which hosted the Palin event. "Every foundation employee is a full-time state employee. We need their salaries and benefits."

Claudia Keith, CSU's assistant vice chancellor of public affairs, told SF Weekly that no costs were incurred by the legal battle over the Palin documents, as in-house counsel handled the case. Of course, time spent by lawyers staving off a lawsuit was time that could have ostensibly been spent on something else -- which was also the case with all of the public employees who spent time working on this event. Keith told SF Weekly that lawyers' hours were not tracked. 

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