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State university officials endorsed secrecy of Palin's speaking fee

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  1. Freedom of Information
E-mail messages made public this week by a state lawmaker show top California State University officials agreed to keep secret…

E-mail messages made public this week by a state lawmaker show top California State University officials agreed to keep secret the speaking fee it intended to pay former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, California Watch reported.

The e-mail messages were released this week to Californians Aware, a First Amendment organization that has sued university’s Stanislaus campus in order to gain access to its contract with Palin.

“Bernie, I agree with you that the damage is done and the disclosure will just cause another round of newspaper stories,” Chancellor Charles Reed wrote in an e-mail to Bernie Swartz, president of the speakers’ bureau representing Palin.

State Sen. Leland Yee, who is working with Californians Aware on the matter, told California Watch that the e-mail shows Reed was “more concerned with covering up an embarrassing story than complying with state law."

Yee was contacted in April by students who retrieved several pages of the university’s contract with Palin after finding shredded documents in dumpsters on a day the school was closed. Yee has called on the attorney general to investigate CSU’s resistance to an open-records request for the information.

“To some extent, this is our little Watergate here in California,” Yee said at a press conference. He believes that the school will pay the former vice-presidential nominee upwards of $100,000 for her June appearance.

The university circulated an e-mail message assuring students that public money would not be used to pay Palin and is adamant that the Stanislaus Foundation, which organized the event, is exempt from state open-records laws.