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District Attorney clears university of illegal dumping
State investigation of Sarah Palin documents ongoing
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California State University, Stanislaus has been cleared of illegally dumping documents related to Sarah Palin’s upcoming June 25 appearance at the University Foundation's 50th Anniversary Gala Fundraiser.
A Stanislaus County District Attorney Office review — conducted at the behest of the CSU Stanislaus Police Department to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest — found no evidence that university staff intentionally threw away documents that might have been subject to Public Records Act requests.
“After a thorough examination of the facts of the case, there is no evidence to suggest that CSUS staff purposely tried to dispose of the documents,” reads a statement from the District Attorney’s Office.
CSU Stanislaus students Alicia Lewis, 26, and Ashli Briggs, 23, claim they found pages four through nine of Palin’s draft speaking contract addendum mixed in with shredded documents in a university Dumpster on April 9. Californians Aware, a non-profit dedicated to open government, had requested to review Palin’s contract in a March 31 Public Records Act Request.
Attorney General Jerry Brown announced he would conduct a thorough investigation of the foundation’s finances and the alleged dumping following Lewis and Briggs’ discovery.
The results of Brown’s investigation have yet to be announced, but the university was pleased with the results of the DAO inquiry.
“An independent, third party investigation has determined there is absolutely no evidence university staff purposely disposed of documents because it never happened,” said university spokesperson Eve Hightower. “As we’ve said all along, no one was instructed to destroy documents. The university values transparency and has fully complied with the Public Records Act.”
The university claims the draft contract addendum was last seen in the office of Vice President for University Advancement Susana Gajic-Bruyea, who also serves as executive director of the University Foundation.
Gajic-Bruyea claimed, in an April 13 e-mail, that she last saw the document in her recycling bin on March 18, slated for shredding at a later date. As of April 13, the document — the only existing printout — was missing from her recycling bin, Gajic-Bruyea wrote.
“We believe, and campus police are investigating, that someone broke into my office and stole the document from my recycling bin,” wrote Gajic-Bruyea.
According to Hightower, employees are responsible for emptying their own individual recycling bins into a central recycling bin. Hightower said the draft contract addendum was the only document missing from Gajic-Bruyea’s recycling bin.
The District Attorney’s Office was unable to determine if a crime had been committed or who may have committed it, according to their statement. Briggs and Lewis declined to be interviewed for the investigation, according to the DAO.
The DAO investigation consisted of a review of the initial CSU Stanislaus Police Department investigation, re-interviewing persons involved in the incident and interviewing additional witnesses. A security analysis of the administration building was also conducted, as was a search for evidence.
“We appreciate the Stanislaus County District Attorney taking the time and effort to further investigate this matter,” Hightower said.
To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.