TODAY   |  April 15, 2010

Palin contract sparks probe at Cal State

Some students and taxpayers are outraged over the costly demands made by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as detailed in a contract for an event at a campus of California State University. NBC’s Andrea Mitchell reports.

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>>> matt, thank you. former alaska governor sarah palin is drawing some heat herself these days over a scheduled speech, not over what she'll say, but what she's asking for to give it. nbc 's andrea mitchell has details.

>> reporter: good morning, meredith . sarah palin is the big draw at tea party rallies all over the country , but it is the private speech that she's been hired to give at a financially-stressed california state school that has got people talking today.

>> do you love your freedom?

>> reporter: palin appears to be loving her freedom. she's a star at conservative rallies attacking the obama administration .

>> is this what their change is all about? i want to tell them, nah, you know, we'll keep clinging to our constitution and our guns and religion and you can keep the change.

>> reporter: and since the campaign , she has made some changes herself. remember this?

>> we got rid of a few things in the governor's office that i didn't think our citizens should be paying for. like that luxury jet. it was a little bit over the top .

>> reporter: a year-and-a-half later, the hockey mom from wasilla is palin, inc., making millions on books, a new tv series for discovery, " sarah palin 's alaska ," a lucrative contract with fox news and highly paid speeches. but a speech she's been hired to give at cal state stanislaus , 1 of 23 california campuses drowning in red ink is causing a furor. that's because students found a copy of palin's contract for the black tie event in a trash bin .

>> at this time, it's important to know where money is going.

>> reporter: palin's lecture requirements are typical for top-level celebrity speakers, but not for the political circuit. she commands a private jet and the contract specifies the private aircraft must be a leer 60 or larger. or first class commercial travel. her lectern must have two bottles of water and bendable straws, and she only takes questions from a pre-approved moderator. this on the campus hit with furlough fridays an a state system rocked by protests over budget cuts. california attorney general and democratic candidate for governor jerry brown is investigating.

>> when you start spending hundreds of thousands, or millions of dollars, then there are complaints made, and there is a dumpster with records and demands for open records, that triggers enough that we want to look into it.

>> reporter: the school says its foundation is paying the freight. but critics say the foundation is led by the university president , based on campus, and uses taxpayer supported facilities. and a new sec report from palin's political action committee shows she spent most of the money she's raised on overhead, not campaign contributions .

>> she contributed $7,500 to candidates and she spent $14,000 de-icing a private jet .

>> reporter: the university president says that palin is being paid with private funds to raise money for university programs and she's driving ticket sales to unprecedented levels. still , today he says that he is acting at least to investigate whether that contract was stolen from a university administrator 's office . meredith ?

>> andrea mitchell , thank you very much . 7:17. here's matt.

>>> michelle obama is wrapping up