State

Jabs fly in Palin contract dust-up

TURLOCK — Leland Yee and Hamid Shirvani on Thursday continued their verbal sparring over a contract to bring Sarah Palin to California State University, Stanislaus.

State Sen. Yee, D-San Francisco, accused university President Shirvani of "double-talk" for saying the school had no documents related to the former governor of Alaska's June visit, then accusing students or employees of taking parts of the contract from the recycling can in the office of a university vice president.

Shirvani shot back that Yee "is conveniently using a legal response from the university for further political gain." He said the contract between the Washington Speakers Bureau, which represents Palin, and the university's foundation is private.

"Vice President for University Advancement Susana Gajic-Bruyea also serves as executive director of the foundation and, in that role, was responsible for reviewing draft and final versions of the foundation's contract with the Washington Speakers Bureau," Shirvani added in a statement issued Thursday.

Students said they found the documents in a Dumpster outside the administration building last Friday, a furlough day for most employees. Shirvani said the draft copies of the contract had been in the bin inside Gajic-Bruyea's office.

Yee and others have been trying to find out how much it cost to bring Palin to campus for a black-tie fund-raiser June 25. Foundation officials said they are bound by a confidentiality clause in the contract and don't have to release it because private donations are paying the fee.

Yee cited a 2001 court case involving the foundation at CSU, Fresno, that found documents held at a university must be made public.

"The law is clear and the courts have ruled — foundation documents are to be made public if they are held by the university, which by the administration's own admission, is the case here," Yee said in a news release.

Yee's office obtained an e-mail regarding the Palin visit that Gajic-Bruyea sent to other campus administrators and faculty over the university's public system. Yee said that demonstrated a clear violation of the California Public Records Act because the school did not provide it to him when he asked for documents pertaining to Palin's speech.

Attorney General Jerry Brown has launched an investigation into the foundation's finances and records.

The university has launched its own investigation, working with the Turlock Police Department and the Stanislaus County district attorney's office, into how the contract came into the students' hands.

Bee staff writer Patty Guerra can be reached at pguerra@modbee.com or 578-2343.

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