Palin decries ‘Dumpster divers’ at Calif. campus

TURLOCK, Calif. (AP) — Sarah Palin leveled criticism at California’s attorney general and others raising questions about her visit to a cash-strapped university, telling supporters that students had better things to do than dive through Dumpsters to find out how much she earns speaking.

The former Alaska governor’s headline address Friday night at the 50th anniversary celebration at California State University, Stanislaus has drawn criticism and scrutiny since it was first announced. It also attracted sizable donations for the public school.

Officials have refused to divulge the terms of her contract or her speaking fee, and some details only came to light after students fished part of what appeared to be Palin’s contract from a rubbish bin.

“Students who spent their valuable, precious time diving through dumpsters before this event in order to silence someone … what a wasted resource,” she told the crowd dining in the campus cafeteria.

“A suggestion for those Dumpster divers: Instead of trying to tell people to sit down and shut up … spend some time telling people like our president to finally stand up,” she said.

The material recovered by the students, which detailed perks such as first-class airfare for two and deluxe hotel accommodations, prompted California Attorney General Jerry Brown to launch an investigation into the finances of the university’s foundation arm and allegations that the nonprofit violated public disclosure laws.

Jerry Brown and friends, come on. This is California,” Palin retorted. “Do you not have anything else to do?”

The California Democrat said Palin was wrong to politicize the inquiry, which he said would be objective.

“I don’t think she understands the process,” he said Friday. “It’s about the operation of the foundation to see if they handled things professionally.”

Officials say the university foundation that organized the fundraiser is legally exempt from public records requirements.

Friday’s sold-out dinner will bring in more than $200,000, making the gala the most successful fundraiser in the university’s history, said university foundation board president Matt Swanson.

“We’re not here to make a political statement, we’re here to make money,” Swanson said.

The funds will help pay for scholarships and a variety of pressing campus needs, which the foundation will determine after consulting with university officials, officials said.

In preparation for the 2008 Republican vice-presidential candidate’s arrival, workers transformed the dining hall into a glitzy gala hall, draped with crimson tablecloths, festooned with orchids and surrounded by chain-link fences.

“We cannot believe the stuff that has gone on with our campus over Sarah Palin’s visit,” said Alicia Lewis, 26, who was one of the team that retrieved the paperwork from a trash container in April. “Now they’re fencing the campus off? It’s outrageous.”

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