PUBLIC INFORMATION -- Are the not-quite-governmental fundraising foundations allied with California State University campuses determined to show why—contrary to their lobbyist's arguments to legislators—their records need to be as open to public review as those of the university itself?

Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) has a bill almost through the legislature that would subject most of these operations' records to the California Public Records Act.  Only __ days ago, his staff reported a conflict of interest scandal in the Sonoma State foudation as Exhibit A for why sunshine is needed. Today they announce Exhibit B:

Another scandal has hit the California State University involving an auxiliary organization operating at Fresno State.  The Fresno Bee is
reporting that a Superior Court judge ruled that a CSU trustee had a
conflict of interest when, as the chief executive officer of a
movie-theater company, he cut a deal to build a movie theatre on Fresno
State land.

Less than two weeks ago, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat
unveiled an investigative report about a Sonoma State University
foundation that used donated funds to provide huge personal loans to
cronies of foundation board members, some of which may never be
recovered.

In the case involving Fresno State, the court ruled
that former CSU Trustee Moctesuma Esparza violated a state law that
prohibits government officials, including CSU board members, from
having a financial interest in any contract they approve.

CSU
attempted to argue that the conflict of interest law does not apply
because the deal was made with the CSU Fresno Association, which they
argued was a private entity.  Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Y. Hamilton
Jr. adamantly disagreed.  Ironically, a CSU lobbyist recently testified
before a State Assembly committee that their foundations and auxiliary
organizations adhere to state conflict of interest laws.

The
State Legislature is currently considering a bill (SB 218) that would
ensure that CSU and University of California auxiliary organizations
adhere to the California Public Records Act.

“Unfortunately, the
hypocrisy continues at CSU,” said Senator Leland Yee (D-San
Francisco/San Mateo), the bill’s author and a CSU alumnus.  “On one
hand, the CSU argues in court that auxiliary organizations do not have
to adhere to conflict of interest laws and then in opposing SB 218,
they tell legislators that they do.  If they are willing to lie to the
Legislature and cut these unethical development deals, what other
wrongdoing is happening at these campus foundations?”

According
to the CSU Chancellor’s office, 20 percent of its $6.7 billion budget,
or $1.34 billion, is held in auxiliaries and foundations and out of
public view.

“It is imperative that we pass SB 218 to stop the UC
and CSU from evading the public records act by simply shifting
responsibilities to foundations and other auxiliary organizations,”
said Yee.  “Taxpayers and students deserve to know how their public
universities are run.  SB 218 will ensure that our public higher
education systems operate in the light of day and are held accountable.”