Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Non-public footings of State university foundations

Calif. to investigate group behind Palin speech
California Attorney General Jerry Brown said Tuesday his office had launched an investigation into the finances of a state university foundation and the alleged dumping of documents related to Sarah Palin's upcoming speech at the school.

Brown also intends to look into whether the California State University, Slanislaus Foundation violated public disclosure laws.

Palin is scheduled to speak at a June 25 gala hosted by the foundation to mark the university's 50th anniversary.

The CSU Stanislaus Foundation previously denied the AP's request to release details of Palin's contract under the California Public Records Act.

Matt Swanson, president of the foundation board, said University foundations and other auxiliary organizations were not subject to the same public records requirements as the university itself. "At this point, we believe it's within our legal right to keep that information to ourselves."

State Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco,disputes the claim, pointing to significant overlap between the university and its foundation arm. For example, he noted, all but one member of the foundation staff and several officers from its board are university employees, and the foundation headquarters is located in the administration building where the students said the document shredding was taking place.

To eliminate any legal loopholes, Yee is sponsoring a bill that would require campus foundations and auxiliary organizations to adhere to public records requirements.

USC nixes bids; donor chooses architect
In a move that's been called unprecedented, USC canceled all bids to hire an architect for its new $90 million Moore School of Business so a donor could pick a design firm of her own choosing.

Instead, the business school's private foundation will pay an estimated $4 million or more to a New York firm chosen by the school's benefactor, Darla Moore.

Moore, a Lake City financier for whom the school is named, sits on the foundation board.

"People shouldn't deal with the university if they don't play by the rules," said Ashley Landess, president of the S.C. Policy Council.

If private money is mingled with public money, the project should have to follow public rules, Landess said.

"There will be public money involved in this project," she said. "And a lot comes from other government sources. It's a symptom of a bigger problem: the university blurring the line between private and public money."

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