FRESNO, Calif. – Capping a long-running dispute, a cash-strapped California public university revealed Friday its foundation arm paid Sarah Palin $75,000 to give a 40-minute speech at an anniversary dinner for the campus.
The appearance by the former candidate for vice president and Alaska governor at California State University, Stanislaus drew intense criticism after officials refused to disclose the terms of her contract to speak at the black-tie gala that ultimately netted major donations for the school.
University spokeswoman Eve Hightower did not immediately explain what prompted the sudden disclosure of the speaking fee, which officials previously maintained was confidential.
But in a statement, campus administrators proclaimed the event to be the most successful fundraiser in the school’s history, saying it raised more than $207,000 for scholarships – an unexplained increase from the previously released figure of $60,000.
Details about Palin’s contract to speak last month first came to light in April. Students fished part of what appeared to be Palin’s contract from a rubbish bin after hearing administrators were engaged in shredding documents.
That prompted California Attorney General Jerry Brown to launch an investigation into the finances of the university foundation and allegations that the nonprofit violated public disclosure laws.
The material recovered by the students detailed perks such as first-class airfare for two, bendable straws and deluxe hotel accommodations.
Hightower said Friday it cost about $2,500 for Palin’s accommodations and local travel in the small town of Turlock. Her airfare was donated, he said.