The Senate voted Thursday to require auxiliary collegiate fund-raising organizations to open their books to public scrutiny, an issue sparked by reports of clandestine financial dealings and topped by the appearance of Sarah Palin at California State University, Stanislaus, in June.
The legislation, Senate Bill 330 by Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, was sent to Gov. Schwarzenegger on a 22-10 vote. Its fate is uncertain. The governor vetoed a similar measure by Yee last year.
Sen. Jeff Denham, R-Merced, whose district includes CSU, Stanislaus, denounced the measure as being "all about politics." He added, "The big issue here is Sarah Palin."
Palin, the former governor of Alaska and the 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate, spoke at a CSU, Stanislaus, Foundation fund-raiser, capping weeks of controversy about how much she was paid. Her $75,000 fee was disclosed after the event. The foundation says it netted more than $200,000 from Palin's appearance.
Attorney General Jerry Brown investigated the Palin case, concluding this month that keeping details secret didn't violate any state law.
Yee began pursuing open records legislation before the Palin flap, citing reports of loans and other activities by auxiliary foundations that were escaping public scrutiny because of a 2001 court decision involving a Fresno State University foundation that exempted such groups from the California Public Records Act (CPRA).
He won legislative approval of an open records bill last year, only to have Schwarzen-egger reject it, saying, "Subjecting the altruistic activities of private donors and volunteers to the CPRA will have a chilling effect on their support and service, if they believe their personal privacy could be compromised. Hindering private giving of time and resources becomes a detriment to our higher education institutions."
Yee said the current bill meets Schwarzenegger's objections by allowing names of donors to remain private. He denied that the measure had anything to do with Palin. "This is really about how we do business," he said.