Nearly 900 documents released Monday by California State University Stanislaus regarding the upcoming controversial visit by Sarah Palin were in response to a Public Records Act by Californians Aware and Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco), chair of the Select Committee on Open Meetings and Public Record Laws.
Many of the documents released were addressing media inquiries and responses.
151 pages of documents were scanned and published on the internet at:
Senator Yee believes the documents prove that university officials violated the California Public Records Act by not disclosing documents requested on March 31.
CSU Stanislaus officials believe the documents prove that the university did comply with the requests including requests after the first one on March 31.
“There has been a great deal of misinformation and confusion surrounding the appearance of Sarah Palin at the CSU Stanislaus 50th Anniversary Gala, and we would like to explain the true facts,” said Dawn Theodora, University Counsel for California State University. “The California State University system regularly complies with requests made through the Public Records Act (PRA). The act clearly stipulates response timelines that we strictly follow and adhere to.”
Among the documents released is an email correspondence between CSU Chancellor Charles Reed and Bernie Swain, chairman of the Washington Speakers Bureau (the entity in which the university contracted for the Palin), along with a response from CSU Stanislaus’ public relations office.
In an email to Reed, Swain states: “The release of the fee, while well-intentioned to share all details, will likely only serve as the financial headline for a new round of stories rather than the intended purpose of clearing the air and making the stories go away. Your event needs fewer story lines, less oxygen for the fuel, not more. We believe, as others have said, any real damage has already been done and after a few days these inquires and stories will slowly, but surely, end.”
Reed responded and copied other CSU officials: “Bernie, I agree with you that the damage is done and the disclosure will just cause another round of newspaper stories. The campus should have worked this through with you all in the beginning.”
Kristin Olsen, who heads the Stanislaus campus public relations office, responded to Reed email: “Good news. The Chancellor is satisfied now with not disclosing the fee.”
“More and more evidence is demonstrating a clear violation of the public records act by CSU officials, and now there is proof that Chancellor Reed was complicit in it,” said Yee. “Chancellor Reed and President Shirvani were more concerned with covering up an embarrassing story than complying with state law.”
“There is absolutely no doubt that public funds – through the use of university resources and employees – have been used for this event and yet the taxpayers are being kept in the dark,” said Yee. “Chancellor Reed is well aware of the law that requires foundation documents in the possession of university employees to be disclosed. The administration has failed the taxpayers and the students. It is now imperative that the Board of Trustees hold these executives accountable.”
The controversy has spurred Attorney General Jerry Brown to launch a formal investigation and Californians Aware to file a lawsuit in Superior Court.
Claudia Keith, spokesperson for the California State University, has responded to the latest accusations of CSU wrongdoing by stating:
“On March 30, California State University Chancellor Charles Reed personally called Bernie Swain, president of the Washington Speakers Bureau to request a waiver of the non-disclosure clause within the contract signed by the CSU Stanislaus Foundation regarding the speaking fee for Sarah Palin. The Washington Speakers Bureau was unable to alter the terms of the contract. The email that was included in pages provided yesterday to CalAware as part of the response to their Public Records Request indicates that the Washington Speakers Bureau was unable to grant the request. The latest accusations by Senator Yee are nothing more than a continuation of his efforts to create scandal where there is none.”