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Stanislaus University Palin Contract Stolen, Says School President

ROBIN HINDERY   04/14/10 10:27 PM ET   AP

Palin

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A California university president said Wednesday a portion of a contract between a school foundation and Sarah Palin for an upcoming speech was stolen from a campus administrator's office last week.

California State University, Stanislaus president Hamid Shirvani said the five-page document was taken from a recycling bin inside the office of Susana Gajic-Bruyea, vice president for university advancement.

"Susana threw the pages into her recycling bin in her office some time ago," Shirvani said in a phone interview. "Somebody either broke into her office to get them or it was somebody who had access to her office."

Shirvani has asked police in the Central Valley city of Turlock to investigate the matter.

The contract is at the center of an escalating controversy at CSU Stanislaus.

The state attorney general's office announced Tuesday it would investigate the university and its foundation for their handling of the contract related to the June 25 speech by Palin. Authorities said the investigation has nothing to do with Palin herself.

The investigation sparked a new round of calls for greater transparency and financial accountability in organizations embedded within California's public universities, particularly given the size of their assets.

"Prudent financial stewardship is crucial at a time in which universities face vastly decreased state funding and increased student fees," Attorney General Jerry Brown said while announcing his investigation.

The university told state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, it did not have any documents related to the speech and said it had referred the matter to Matt Swanson, board president of the California State University, Stanislaus Foundation.

Swanson sent letters to Yee and The Associated Press stating that Palin's contract had a nondisclosure clause. He also said university foundations and other auxiliary organizations were not subject to the same public records requirements as the university itself.

Swanson has not responded to requests for comment on the investigation. He has said the Palin event would be funded entirely by private donations.

The investigation was launched after two students said they had found pages of the contract in a campus trash bin.

Ashli Briggs, 23, one of the students, called Shirvani's theft allegation completely unfounded.

"It's a sad day when the university is accusing its own employees, it's own students of committing a crime," she said.

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Filed by T.J. Ortenzi  |