The California State University, Stanislaus Foundation revealed Friday that former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin was paid $75,000 to speak at the June 25 50th Anniversary Gala Fundraiser.
Palin’s travel and accommodation expenses added an additional $2,500 to the total.
Palin’s speaking fee was a point of contention in the run up to the Gala, spurring legal action and Public Records Act Requests seeking the figure. Palin’s contract with the Foundation mandated the fee remain private, and foundations are currently not subject to the Public Records Act.
The announcement was too little, too late for State Senator Leland Yee (D – San Francisco). Yee has been leading a campaign for the release of documents regarding Palin’s visit, and has authored a bill requiring Foundations be subject to the Public Records Act.
“The public deserved this information months ago,” Yee said. “Instead a backroom deal was cooked up by CSU executives, and students were shut out.
“This is just the latest contradiction by Stanislaus administrators – first they claim they can’t disclose the Palin speaking fee because of a contract term and now they announce it; first they claim they have no documents pertaining to her visit and then hundreds of documents surface in a university Dumpster; first they claim that university officials never had the contract and then erroneously claim it was stolen from their offices.”
Yee also questioned a lack of accounting for employee salaries and benefits in the summary released Friday. He estimated that “tens of thousands of dollars” were spent by the foundation on staff work preparing for Palin’s visit.
CSU Stanislaus spokeswoman Eve Hightower said Friday that the release of Palin’s fee was always planned as part of the accounting process. Most invoices have been received at this point, she said, leading to the near-finalized release of the accounting summary.
More details on the foundation’s expenditures will be available when the foundation files its Form 990 with the IRS, Hightower said.
Record fundraising, all destined for scholarships
The accounting summary shows the gala raised more than $473,000, with net proceeds of over $207,000, setting an all-time record for CSU Stanislaus fundraisers – and all those proceeds will be headed to student scholarships, said CSU Stanislaus President and Foundation Executive Director Hamid Shirvani.
On June 25, Shirvani and foundation staff had announced that only a third of the proceeds would go to scholarships.
“During these difficult economic times, I am especially proud that we have received an unprecedented level of private support to celebrate 50 years of academic excellence and to help us continue providing hardworking students access to higher education," Shirvani said.
Costs for the gala included a $30,338 catering bill – including a caprese salad with heirloom tomatoes, seared scallops and savory mushroom risotto, and frozen chocolate soufflé for every guest – $11,637 for printing, materials, and postage, and $42,564 for event décor. Processing fees and valet services cost $3,567 and renting the facility cost $5,470.
Security costs tallied $33,616, based on cost estimates provided by Turlock and Modesto police departments. Security fencing, which surrounded the venue, totaled $2,282.
Revenues of $473,035 included sponsorships, donations, in-kind gifts, and tickets, which were $500 per seat.
For the CSU Stanislaus Foundation’s final accounting summary of the 50th Anniversary Fundraising Gala, go to http://www.csustan.edu/foundation/documentation.html.
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