TURLOCK -- Questions and allegations about the contract to bring Sarah Palin to Turlock continue to swirl less than a month before the event.
On Monday, an anti-Palin Web site based in Europe said it had uncovered how much California State University, Stanislaus, will pay to bring the former Alaska governor and Republican vice presidential nominee to a June 25 fund-raiser: $75,000 in a speaker's fee and $18,000 in expenses, including travel, transportation and hotel.
The contract signed between the university's foundation and the Washington Speakers Bureau, which represents Palin, includes a clause keeping the amount she's being paid confidential.
Foundation President Matt Swanson dismissed the claims from palingates.blogspot.com, which cites "a reliable source at CSU Stanislaus," as more political grandstanding over what remains a hot topic.
Never miss a local story.
"The number of things anonymously posted on the Internet, I don't know how we can keep up or track them all down," he said. He pointed out that it's curious that the site claims to have a figure for expenses, when travel arrangements for Palin haven't been finalized.
A blogger named Patrick, who would not give his last name, said the site was built early last year to expose "the various scandals that surround Sarah Palin."
He said site operators have established connections with sources in California and Alaska, and that's where the information came from.
The site said the foundation issued two payments of $37,500 to the speakers bureau. That's a similar payment arrangement made by the Lane County Republican Party in Oregon for an April visit, according to the Register-Guard newspaper in Eugene. That group paid $35,000, the newspaper said, citing a campaign finance disclosure statement on the Oregon secretary of state's campaign finance Web site. Palin's Oregon appearance also included a confidentiality clause for her speaking fee.
California state Sen. Leland Yee, who has criticized the university for not disclosing the fee, again came out swinging Monday.
"If these figures are accurate, clearly CSU got a bad deal and Sarah Palin gouged California students," said Yee, D-San Francisco.
"Celebrities should not be trying to line their own pockets at the expense of students, especially at a time when our public higher education system is in such dire straits."
Yee briefly met CSUS President Hamid Shirvani at the state Senate on Monday. Shirvani was at the Capitol as part of a group of CSU officials seeking support from Gov. Schwarzenneger.
Swanson said when it became clear that Palin's fee would become a political issue, the foundation suggested -- through the Speakers Bureau -- that the fee be made public.
"But we told them we're going to honor the confidentiality," he said. "But in a political maelstrom, maybe you guys want to release it."
Swanson said the continued debate over the fee, and a lawsuit filed by government watchdog CalAware, serve only to distract from the real mission of Palin's appearance: raising money for the university as part of its yearlong 50th anniversary celebration.
"I'm looking forward to announcing how much money net that we made," Swanson said. "I think it's going to be a great number. That was the whole point."
Bee staff writer Patty Guerra can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2343.