It ended up twice vetoed. But it was a bill that gained traction after students demanded to know how much Sarah Palin was paid to speak at a California State University campus fundraiser this year.
Today Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, announced that when the state Senate reconvenes Monday he plans to re-introduce a bill that would force more disclosure of information from private foundations linked to public higher education.
He said he believes Gov.-elect Jerry Brown, "unlike his predecessor," will "match his action with his rhetoric and sign this bill into law."
Yee's cause captured attention last April with a scandal: The CSU Stanislaus Foundation claimed it had no documents related to a speech Palin was going to give as a fundraiser on that campus. Then the foundation claimed it was private and not required, under state law, to disclose how much it was paying the former Republican vice presidential candidate.
Stanislaus students found documents in a dumpster with partial information about Palin's contract and a judge forced the foundation to disclose more, including Palin's $75,000 speaking fee.
Supporters of Yee's SB 330 - it doesn't have a new number yet - point out that millions in public money are commingled with auxiliary foundations.
Yee also cites other examples that show a need for transparency. At Sonoma State, a former foundation board member received a $1.25 million loan two days after he resigned. At Fresno State, auxiliary exemptions were used in court as a defense for refusal to disclose information about individuals given luxury suites at a campus arena.
At Sacramento State, President Alexander Gonzalez spent $27,000 from campus auxiliary money on a kitchen remodel, Yee said, which a state audit said gave the "appearance of impropriety."
Legislators approved Yee's bill last year, but Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed it, as he did a previous version.
"While the bill attempts to provide a veil of protection for donors requesting anonymity," he said in his veto message, "as crafted, it will not provide sufficient protection for many who rightfully deserve a level of privacy as part of their giving."
Yee said in a statement Friday: "Our public universities should not be allowed to hide billions of dollars without any accountability. Most of these auxiliaries are fully staffed by public employees who administer public funds, yet their decisions are made in complete secrecy. Taxpayers and students deserve better."
Editor's Note: This post has been updated to reflect that Gonzalez spent $27,000 from a campus auxiliary -- not $200,000 -- for the kitchen work. Updated at 12:10 p.m. on Dec. 6.