The Public Eye

Reports from the Bee's investigative team

June 29, 2010
President Gonzalez's brother plays CSUS gig

By Laurel Rosenhall
lrosenhall@sacbee.com

The family of Sacramento State President Alexander Gonzalez has been in the news before.

In 2005, the university hired Gonzalez's son, Alex Jr., for a $72,000-a-year fundraising job. By last year, he was earning more than $81,000 a year and had moved to a position in the public affairs office.

Now, a family member has been compensated by the university's nonprofit foundation, whose board of directors is headed by Gonzalez.

The University Foundation at Sacramento State paid the president's brother $4,500 to perform a Mexican harp concert, hold a student workshop and buy 100 of his CDs, according to foundation documents.

Francisco Gonzalez is a Tucson musician. Last year, he was touring California to promote a CD and stopped in Sacramento in October to play at the university's alumni center.

No taxpayer money was used to pay him. Funding came from the university foundation, a nonprofit that raises money to support the school, said Carole Hayashino, who heads university fundraising. The performance was an event to thank donors, and attendees received Francisco Gonzalez's CD, "The Gift."

The foundation paid him $3,000 for the concert and $1,500 for the CDs. It covered his two-night hotel stay for $190.78. Hayashino said Francisco Gonzalez and an accompanist shared the concert fee.

A sampling of contracts in the last year shows many musicians who played at Sac State earned $1,500 to $2,000. Because Francisco Gonzalez's pay was comparable, his contract did not violate the foundation's conflict of interest policy, Hayashino said.

Still, the performance was a sore point for some professors who have a history of strained relations with the president.

"I see this in a string of scenarios or situations that sound a lot like nepotism," said Kevin Wehr, a sociology professor active in the California Faculty Association.

President Gonzalez said he played no role in his son's hiring and wasn't involved in planning his brother's show. The president said his brother told him he would be touring and offered to stop at Sac State. The president said he mentioned the offer to the ethnic studies department and to Hayashino, who took the lead in planning the concert.

"In my view there's nothing unethical," Alexander Gonzalez said. "I'm not the one who paid him. I'm not the one who engaged him."

Hayashino said the foundation has to spend money to raise money and that the concert was one of many events it does to that end. The foundation has raised $18 for every dollar it's spent on fundraising activities, she said.

See video of Gonzalez's performance here.

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