California school finds Palin documents it claimed didn't exist

Modesto BeeMay 6, 2010 

TURLOCK — Attorneys for California State University, Stanislaus, have found 899 pages of documents related to Sarah Palin's planned visit to the campus.

A First Amendment group calls the apparent reversal suspicious. The university in early April denied having any records related to the former Republican vice presidential nominee's appearance. After a second public records request, the documents came to light.

"I can't understand how they could have made that rapid and unconditional response," said Terry Francke, director of CalAware, a government watchdog group. "They suggested we ask the foundation."

The university's nonprofit foundation signed the Palin contract, which requires her payment be kept confidential. CalAware has sued the university and the foundation for the contract.

The explanation is simple, said Dawn Theodora, attorney for the CSU system.

The group's first request sought records pertaining to Palin's appearance. The second asked for records pertaining to the gala. Theodora said that would include items such as facility rentals that aren't directly related to Palin.

Also, most of what the university has relates to the media maelstrom that kicked up after Palin's appearance was announced.

"Of the 899 pages I have, 738 of them are dated April 7 or later," Theodora said. "Cal- Aware is trying to make everybody think we withheld 900 records, and that's not the case."

Students said they found several pages of the Palin contract in a university Dumpster on April 9. They turned them and several bags of shredded papers over to Attorney General Jerry Brown's office, which has launched an investigation.

All of the documents the university has are e-mails, so any assertion that records were shredded is false, Theodora said.

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