Nelson Mandela: A life in pictures
Nelson Mandela and his wife Winnie in this undated file picture.
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.”
University spokeswoman Eve Hightower said the extensive fencing and extra security were standard procedure for large campus events and said the university had remained open to students going to class.
Last month, CSU Stanislaus released dozens of documents in response to California Public Records Act requests from The Associated Press and the open-government group Californians Aware.
The paperwork included e-mails documenting the university’s efforts to limit public fallout over Palin’s visit, but it did not include information about her contract. Palin has commanded fees as high as $100,000.
About 100 protesters stood outside on the campus’s leafy grounds raising up a Sarah Palin-shaped pinata and signs lettered “Spill, Baby, Spill” and “Open The Books,” and chanting about school budget cuts.
“I was expecting quite a few protests,” said Palin, who was accompanied by her daughter Willow. “It’s been nothing but absolute loveliness here in this part of California, in spite of some of the hoopla around this dinner.”
The rural university, like dozens of other public colleges, has had to cut some classes and cancel several scholarships as a result of California’s ongoing financial woes.
A group of about 30 Palin supporters from local tea party chapters also came to campus Friday afternoon, waving large American flags and carrying placards that read “Support Free Speech.”
Palin has endorsed former Hewlett-Packard Co. chief executive Carly Fiorina in her bid to unseat Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, but a Fiorina spokeswoman said Palin would not be making any stops on behalf of the campaign.
Associated Press Writer Terry Collins in San Francisco also contributed to this report.
Nelson Mandela and his wife Winnie in this undated file picture.
Mandela is accompanied by his former wife Winnie, moments after his release from prison February 11, 1990 after serving 27 years in jail. (Reuters)
In this February, 1990 photo, shortly after his release from 27 years in prison, Nelson Mandela, gives the black power salute to the 120,000 supporters packing Soccer City stadium in Soweto, near Johannesburg. (AP Photo)
Nelson Mandela showed his passport in February 19, 1990, shortly after his release from prison. The South African government authorized an application for himself and his wife Winnie - (Juda Ngwenya / Reuters)
In this July 27, 1991 photo, Cuban President Fidel Castro, and Nelson Mandela gesture during the celebration of the "Day of the Revolution" in Matanzas, Cuba. (AP Photo)
In this July 4, 1993 photo, President Bill Clinton and Nelson Mandela listen during Fourth of July ceremonies in Philadelphia during which Clinton presented the Philadelphia Liberty Medal to the African National Congress president and South African President F.W. de Klerk. (AP Photo/Greg Gibson)
President of the African National Congress Nelson Mandela acknowledges cheers from the crowd as he prepares to unveil the ANC's official election platform in 1994. (AP Photo/David Brauchli)
African National Congress (ANC) leader Nelson Mandela greeted residents of Mmabatho in March 1994, during a visit after the nominal homeland came under South African control following the ousting of the former President Lucas Mangope. (Reuters/Howard Burditt)
South African President Nelson Mandela smiles with actor Sidney Poitier at a press conference in Cape Town in 1996. Poitier played Mandela in the film "One Man, One Vote" (AP Photo / Sasa Kralj)
South African President Nelson Mandela waves to crowds as he sits next to Queen Elizabeth II in a an open carriage on the way to Buckingham Palace.(AP/Louisa Buller)
Chairman of the Constitutional Assembly Cyril Ramaphosa, left, holds up a copy of the country's constitution which was signed by President Nelson Mandela, in December 1996. (AP Photo / Adil Bradlow / POOL)
Nelson Mandela at a news conference in Johannesburg in February 2000. (AP Photo / Denis Farrell)
South African rugby captain Francois Pienaar, right, received the Rugby World Cup trophy from President Nelson Mandela also wearing a South African rugby shirt, after South Africa defeated New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup , in 1995. (AP Photo / Ross Setford)