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When Sarah Palin Speaks, We All Listen (Though Sometimes at a Price)

3 years ago
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If her 1,659,950 Facebook fans and 173,782 followers on Twitter are any guide, millions of Americans are eager to hear Sarah Palin's every word. Though I'm not an official fan of hers, I count myself among those who read far more about Palin, the Republican former Alaska governor and running mate to John McCain, than I probably should.
I know all about her endorsing Nikki Haley in South Carolina, Carly Fiorina and Star Parker in California, and her offering to work with President Obama to "plug the d#*!" hole" spewing 60,000 barrels of oil a day in the Gulf of Mexico. The mere mention of her claim to be a feminist generates heated debate among her rabid female supporters and opponents. Love her or hate her, you have to admire how she has captivated the American public like few other politicians have done.
Exhibit A is the media frenzy over her speech this Friday at a public university in California where she is reportedly receiving a $75,000 speaking fee plus expenses. For months, the press has clamored for access, and last Friday the university relented and will allow media coverage of her June 25th appearance at the 50th anniversary fundraising gala at California State University at Stanislaus.
CSU Stanislaus Foundation was looking for a big name to celebrate its 50th anniversary. And, what bigger name in politics to trot before major donors than Sarah Palin? As CSU student Maria Skordos-Moore chortled on the university's Facebook page "I think it is awesome Sarah Palin is speaking at Stan State!! How do I get tickets to hear her speak? Kudos to whoever got her to speak in the Central Valley!"
Sarah PalinOther students justified the Foundation's decision. One of them, Patricia Alvarez-Palma, posted the following view on Facebook: "well people it is a fundraiser and this name although now liked by alot is very highly solicited and will deff bring in the big money, i think its smart and a good move for what it is ...to raise funds."
The CSU Foundation has received some well-deserved heat for not opening its books to the public. In fact, it was only through clever dumpster-diving by a group of CSU students that Palin's lucrative arrangement came to light. Now, Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown is investigating the university's failure to disclose details of her contract. Since then, the Foundation has been on the defensive, and refused to turn over details of the Palin contract. CSU Stanislaus president Hamid Shirvani said that the Foundation did not have to turn over its documents and, moreover, that it could not breach the confidentiality clause in the Washington Speakers Bureau contract "even if it wanted to."
So, once again, controversy swirls around Palin. But, in this case, I think the controversy is misplaced. I have no problem with paying speakers lucrative amounts nor that Palin earned $12 million on the speaking circuit last year. After all, captivating speakers routinely earn high fees.
No, it's not Palin's celebrity that I mind. What I mind is that Palin is accepting such an extraordinary fee at a time when CalStan must cut $6 million from its budget and is furloughing its employees 24 days this year. Palin's payment is even more galling in light of the fact that the university struggles to help the 45 percent of CalStan's students who rely on financial aid to pay the $16,000 annual fees.
Getting Palin may have been a coup for the university, and there's little doubt that her speech will be Cal Stan's biggest fundraising event to date. It's hard to sneeze at the $100,000 to $200,000 that Matt Swanson, the president of the Cal State Stanislaus foundation board, expects to net after expenses from those willing and able to fork over $500 for a ticket.
But, the real issue is what should Palin do with her speaking fee?
Democratic State Senator Leland Yee says that Palin should have waived her speaker's fees. He argues that Palin "gouged California students" by charging such a high fee.
I'm not Sarah Palin's PR director. But, if I were giving advice, I would suggest a sure-fire winning strategy. At the end of her speech --- which we can all now hear thanks to media pressure --- Palin should announce that she is donating her speaking fees to the CSU financial aid office to fund a scholar's four years at the university. Talk about a PR coup.

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37 Comments

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ialbel

All of you that insist you are so PC are roused to anger when someone doesn't observe the patent sensibilities taught at every government school in America. Most can't believe that (for someone who is so out of step with their left wing crowd) so much play and attention to this wildly popular and unpopular woman has created the celebrity she has become. Women's groups ignore her even though at times she may have the attention of our whole country. Shouldn't these very groups support her popularity in a field where few women have succeeded? Doesn't this smack of hypocracy? Less government, reduced budgets and wasteful spending, protect personal property rights, promote states rights ... why does this scare so many? Perhaps a culture populated with victims holding empty hands outstretched for redistribution of wealth is the real answer.

August 27 2010 at 9:40 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Barbourgreatscot

Mrs. Palin has every right to make whatever fee the market will bear,and a right to her political viewpoint. I understand why the right is taken so much by her, an attractive, fire em' up speaker. Something the Republicans have not had in a very long time, if ever. If ever the right is to appeal to "mainstream" Americans there mas to be more to them than just appearance over content. Is it in OUR nation interest to have political leaders who appear to have problems with basic facts, an apparent difficulty with answering questions that are not pre-screened and an inability to see the contradiction in some of her statements?

June 30 2010 at 9:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
dustbunny

I'm not a fan of Mrs. Palin at all and find her politics and her speaking style particularly galling.

Still, asking her to hand over her fee is simply ridiculous and smacks of sexism.

Democratic State Senator Leland Yee's ridiculous argument that she has somehow "gouged" the system or the students is laughable since Palin was asked to speak and her fees were in no way forced upon the students or the system. She demanded nothing and has forced no one to hire her.

Trying to weasel out of an obligation by attempting to publicly shame Mrs. Palin is low. If hiring Palin was a bad idea, punish or fire the people who made that decision. Part of California's problem is the fact that state legislators like Mr. Yee are themselves immune to any sort of responsibility for any of their own decisions.

Since he's asking for Palin to sacrifice to make up for what is potentially poor decision making, has he done the same? If not, why not?

From where I sit, it seems that Mr. Yee is so deeply entrenched in the system that he finds it impossible to hold University employees responsible for their own decisions.

Mr. Yee seems entirely incapable of placing blame where it belongs and seems entirely too capable of blaming the person that the university voluntarily contracted with.

Asking Mrs. Palin to bear the brunt of the California's University system's poor financial planning is an insult, and Mr. Yee should apologize immediately.

June 21 2010 at 10:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
cchucklest1

i don't like mrs palins politics,however if she gets hired to speak she should get paid her going rate. she is just like the rest of us what she does with her money is her business. no one tells me what to do with my money and no one has the right to tell her what to do with hers. people please get your own lives and try to manage yourself. looks like mrs palin is doing a good job managing herself and her life. her money is no concern of yours. worry about your own money if you have any.

June 21 2010 at 7:14 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
Carolyn

She should donate her fee the day after the entire staff of the university donate their salaries. If you think Ms. Palin owes those students any more than her speech for the sum requested, which they've agreed to pay based on a contract, then I'm sure you can also ignore the contracts for all the staff and donate their salaries too. How about you donate your salary too... I mean geez... it would be such a great PR thing to do!

June 21 2010 at 4:03 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
truthforfreedom

Anyone making money is somehow not quite as good as a liberal. It's getting old, this Palin bashing. No one knows what she does with all of her money. There are anonymous doners all over the place who give to the causes they wish to donate to and perhaps Sarah Palin does too. Why must it be a liberal cause?

This is just getting boring and it makes it very clear that she is a threat somehow. I'd like to know why she poses such a threat.

June 21 2010 at 12:41 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to truthforfreedom's comment
touristinamerica

threat? no. flabbergasted? yes. people pay for this?

June 21 2010 at 2:06 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
Bonbon

Left just mad as usual because she is so popular.

June 21 2010 at 12:13 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
mariannescanlan

Don't think the left is obsessed with Palin. The right tries to make her into something she's not.

June 20 2010 at 10:51 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Hollon

Exactly how much did Bill Clinton give back, How many times did he speak for free, you guys just make me laugh so much. Positively Palin 2012 !!!

June 20 2010 at 10:17 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Raroe15

Last I checked we are still allowed to make what we can. Have those Administrators and other professors making over $75,000.00 been approached to give back ? I mean , lets be "fair" right.

June 20 2010 at 10:05 PM Report abuse +8 rate up rate down Reply

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