Friday, April 16, 2010


Org Behind Palin Speech = $3M Govt Grants;
Sunshine Must Apply

The California State University Stanislaus Foundation has been in the news lately because it's sponsoring the upcoming public speaking appearance of Sarah Palin, and won't divulge how much they are paying the former governor of Alaska.

Students at the CSU Stanislaus campus, displaying a highly commendable spirit of sunshine activism, went dumpster diving and found portions of Palin's contract in the trash.

State Senator Leland Yee, working with Californians Aware, are just a few of the players trying to force the CSU-affiliated foundation to make documents related to Palin's speaking fee available for public inspection. Toward that goal, Californians Aware filed a lawsuit today against the foundation and its withholding records.

I went over the IRS 990 filings for the foundation, and learned that in 2008 it received $297,723 in government grants, during 2007 that figure was $459,978, and in 2006 a robust $2,164,277 from government agencies flowed to the foundation.

Over this three-year period the foundation raked in a total of $2,921,978 in such grants. Almost three million public dollars.

The foundation, as with all nonprofits, is not required to disclose which government agencies awarded the grants, and no disclosure is made as to whether the funds came from a state or federal agency. All too vague for my sunshine tastes.

Radical sunshine advocates such as myself believe that when a nonprofit receives a government grant, all local, state and federal open books statutes should apply. A nonprofit should not be allowed to keep the public in the dark about which government body is giving them money, nor should the public be refused transparency on things such as fees for sub-contractors, with either the likes of Sarah Palin or Al Gore.

The darkness surrounding the Palin contract with the CSU Stanislaus Foundation, is a prime instance of what it wrong with current disclosure laws for orgs with an IRS tax exemption, it which the org gets also receives an exemption from full transparency.

Here's an ironic political twist to the Palin speaking fee controversy at CSU Stanislaus. The president of the university and the foundation, Dr. Hamid Shirvani, is someone who donated $2,300 to Barack Obama's presidential campaign. His wife, who also works at the university, gave Obama $2,300 in 2008.

Nice of Palin to inadvertently assist better sunshine at colleges and foundations of all sorts. We will all benefit from the Californians Aware suit and proposed legislation from Senator LelandYee, pushing the public's right to have more books opened for public inspection.

6 comments:

ALLSovereign said...

Thanks for sharing this information.

Michael said...

you're welcome. just doing my part to help bring sunshine to the palin speech and her speaking fee.

Michael said...

and i see that the daily kos version of this post, which included a poll, has generated some good discussion about sunshine and accountability:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/4/17/858119/-Org-behind-Palin-talk$3M-in-govt-grants:-Sunshine-now!

check out the link.

Anonymous said...

The various "campus foundations" here in CA as well as throughout the nation are a major hidden funding source for ALL kinds of nefarious and otherwise below-the-radar activities: they are legal-entity allowed property owners (think golf courses & conference centers) contract negotiators (as in faculty clubs & event promotors) etc. who can & do operate without public disclosures much less adherence to "official" university policies. They operate more like churches than educators.

The Republic of Stupidity said...

The darkness surrounding the Palin contract with the CSU Stanislaus Foundation, is a prime instance of what it wrong with current disclosure laws for orgs with an IRS tax exemption, it which the org gets also receives an exemption from full transparency.
___________

Are you sure about that?

I do the books for TWO different California non-profits and I help out w/ the 990's (nonprofit tax returns...).

Both of my non-profits have to list who they get their money from in the 990s. You say they get an exemption, but you were able to go on line and look at their tax returns, thru Guidestar I assume, and find out how much they got in grants from govts.

How was the information in the 990s stated?

Michael said...

dear republic,

i provided the links to the IRS 990s under discussion, but i don't think you read them, since you ask how was the govt grants info stated.

on the first page of the filing, line 1 c, info is stated about govt grants, which is just a figure. there is no more info on whether it is from a state or federal govt agency.

check out the 2006 return:

http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2006/770/492/2006-770492209-02d7bdb0-9.pdf

except for line 1 c, more info is omitted.

and yes, i went to guidestar to read the returns. how do you think i got the annual govt grant numbers to come up with the almost $3 million figure?