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Disclosure laws to apply to SSU foundation

The public will have access to internal records of Sonoma State University's Academic Foundation starting Jan. 1 under a bill signed into law Wednesday.

The Transparency Act, sponsored by state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, brings academic foundations and campus auxiliary organizations under the state's public records laws. It applies to the California State University, the University of California and the state's community colleges.

Yee cited the SSU foundation, which oversees an endowment of about $28 million, in arguing for his bill. The foundation came under criticism in 2009 for loans it made to former board member Clem Carinalli, who resigned from the board in 1995 and received his first loan two days later.

SSU political science professor Andy Merrifield said Wednesday the law could help reduce tensions between the school's administration and faculty members who have questioned the school foundation's spending, as well as the administration's overall financial priorities.

"Everyone will start fresh as everybody will be looking at exactly the same numbers," said Merrifield, who also is president of the California Faculty Association.

"Hopefully it will reduce the acrimony because both sides can see what's happening," he said.

Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed the bill twice. But Gov. Jerry Brown's signature had been expected since May, when state university leaders, who had opposed it, said they would support it.


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