California to Investigate Sarah Palin Speaking Contract

Attorney General Jerry Brown wants to know if university officials broke laws.

ByABC News
April 13, 2010, 4:52 PM

Apr. 14, 2010 — -- California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. said late Tuesday his office will look into accusations that officials at a state university violated public records laws when they refused to reveal the financial details of a contract with former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to speak at an upcoming university fundraiser, and allegedly shredded documents related to the agreement.

"This is not about Sarah Palin," Brown said in a prepared statement. "She has every right to speak at a university event, and schools should strive to bring to campus a broad range of speakers. The issues are public disclosure and financial accountability in organizations embedded in state-run universities. We're not saying any allegation is true, but we owe it to the taxpayers to thoroughly check out every serious allegation."


A state senator asked Brown's office to open the investigation after students at Cal State University Stanislaus reported finding documents in a dumpster related to the Palin speaking appearance, which is scheduled for June. They accused university officials of discarding the documents in an effort to hide the details of the contract with Palin, which is reportedly worth $75,000 to the governor, and includes provisions that require luxury accommodations and first-class travel arrangements. The senator, San Francisco Democrat Leland Yee, had asked the university to justify the expense at a time when the state is struggling financially.

University officials said they had not been informed of the attorney general's investigation, but said they believe it will show they acted properly and they will cooperate fully.

But the university's president, Hamid Shirvani, defended the decision to invite Palin to speak, and told ABC News that university officials did not attempt to destroy any documents.

"We have absolutely never, nobody has been asked to shred any document regarding Gov. Palin," Shirvani said. "The smoking gun is really not a smoking gun."

The episode is the latest to ignite controversy in connection to a paid public appearance by the former Republican vice presidential hopeful. Palin has crossed the country making speeches as part of the lucrative career that followed her decision to step down as Alaska governor in July. In many instances she is warmly received. But in others, as when she was offered $100,000 to speak at a Tea Party event, the payments have become the source of fascination and disagreement.