Palin may ban video, sound recorders at university speech

WASHINGTON — Sarah Palin could be keeping cameras and tape recorders at bay during her upcoming appearance at California State University, Stanislaus.

It's not that she's shy. The controversial former Alaska governor and vice presidential contender has been crisscrossing the country delivering speeches to everyone from Republican activists to wine and liquor purveyors.

But for reasons that remain ambiguous, there's no evidence that either video or sound recordings will be permitted at her June 25 speech in Turlock. Palin has imposed similar electronic blackouts at some of her other recent speeches, including several delivered in Florida last month and one delivered in Arkansas in February.

"Remember, it's a black-tie gala fundraiser," university spokeswoman Eve Hightower said. "Guests anticipate an elegant evening with a five-course dinner and dancing. But, we are working out how to accommodate reporters."

Asked specifically Tuesday about whether cameras and tape recorders will be allowed at the state university cafeteria, where the event is being held, Hightower said only that "some B-roll footage is possible and is being considered."

In the television news business, B-roll refers to supplemental video footage; for instance, shots of a speaking hall being set up. It does not refer to live coverage of the actual speech.

"We'll have the logistics for media worked out closer to the event," Hightower said.

Hightower did not answer detailed follow-up questions about how reporters will be allowed to cover the $500-a-head event, scheduled to commemorate the school's 50th anniversary.

But as an in-demand speaker, Palin has been able to impose myriad conditions on her hosts. An apparent partial copy of her contract released Tuesday by a state assemblyman stated that "all broadcast and recording requests will be considered on a case by case basis" and that requests for general media coverage must be submitted "for review and approval" by Palin's representatives with the Washington Speakers Bureau.

Palin's representatives have further insisted that her speaking fee remain secret, university officials say. The fee is being paid by the non-profit California State University Stanislaus Foundation.

For a Tea Party appearance in Nashville earlier this year, Palin commanded a $100,000 speaking fee, according to a recent lawsuit filed in Williamson County, Tenn.

The Nashville speech, in turn, was only one of many Palin has delivered since she resigned her job as Alaska governor in July 2009 with 18 months left to serve in her four-year term. She toured to support her book, "Going Rogue," and as a speaker has juggled purely Republican events with others of a non-partisan cast.

"I've spent a lot of time traveling around this great nation," Palin told the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America convention held at the Caesars Palace hotel in Las Vegas.

Palin's hour-long appearance in Las Vegas on April 6 focused primarily on general political talking points — "Washington just keeps going ahead on their spending," she said — rather than on wine and spirits issues.

In addition, Palin has been raising money for her political action committee, which she described as designed to be "tackling issues that you care about and ... helping candidates who will stand up for our nation."

Last year, SarahPAC reported raising $2.1 million, with contributors including Fresno businessman Gordon Pierce and Visalia physician Bruce Graham.

Palin's PAC reported spending $1.2 million last year, of which $45,500 — 3 percent — went to other candidates. Fundraising expenses, travel costs and an assortment of political consultants ate up most of the committee's spending.

Other leadership PACS are more generous and less top heavy. For instance, contributions to candidates amounted to 42 percent of total spending last year by a political action committee established by Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Visalia, records show.

(Modesto Bee staff writer Patty Guerra contributed.)