California might spread light on university foundations

It looks like California is going to make a law requiring that foundations for public colleges and universities be subject to the state public records act. On Monday the state Assembly passed SB330, which now requires approval by the Senate and a signature by the governor. (See Associated Press story.)

Last year the governor vetoed similar legislation, fearing that donors wouldn’t want to give money if people knew their identity. So this year’s bill allows donors and volunteers to remain anonymous if they wish.

At least it’s a start. In most states, universities are allowed to create private foundations to funnel donations; Their own little slush funds to hide all sorts of corruption. For example, several years ago The (UCLA) Daily Bruin found that rich people were making big contributions to get their slacker relatives into competitive programs (see story from 2007). While this legislation will still make it easy for that kind of bribery to occur, at least people would be able to look at other ways the foundations are spending donor money (swanky fetes for donors and university officials, etc.).

Check out this legislation and get it passed in your state!

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