From hockey mom to diva: contract reveals Sarah Palin's taste for luxury

Inquiry reveals that hiring former governor of Alaska to speak is not so much high-maintenance as high-risk

If you want to keep Sarah Palin in the style to which she's become accustomed, her private jet "MUST BE a Lear 60 or larger," she'll need a whole fleet of SUVs to ferry her around town, and at least three luxury hotel rooms will be required to accommodate all those suitcases full of designer clobber.

The former governor of Alaska will also want an endless supply of bottled water with "bendable" straws, a security detail to prevent the great unwashed bothering her for autographs, and a cast-iron guarantee that she won't get asked any complicated questions that haven't been shown to her in advance.

Once you've gone to those lengths, and found tens of thousands of dollars to cover her considerable speaking fee, you may then, if you are really unlucky, find that your role in organising Mrs Palin's appearance becomes the subject of a criminal investigation.

California's attorney general yesterday announced an inquiry into one of the state's public universities, amid allegations that its staff attempted to illegally destroy documents related to a $500-a-head fundraising dinner at which Mrs Palin was scheduled to appear.

California State University, Stanislaus, is accused of covering up the circumstances under which the former Republican vice-presidential candidate agreed to travel south from Alaska to headline its 50th anniversary celebration at the end of June.

Last month Leland Yee, a Democratic senator from San Francisco, used public disclosure laws to demand that the government-funded college publish documents revealing what Mrs Palin will be paid for the gig. Her usual fee is believed to be some $100,000 (£65,000).

The university initially refused his request, on a variety of grounds. Then, just as an appeal against that decision was about to be heard, the relevant documents were discovered by a group of left-leaning students. They had allegedly been left in a pile of paperwork due for disposal. Some of the crucial documents were already shredded, possibly illegally. But Mrs Palin's five-page "contract addendum" was still in one piece. That document, written by her agents at the Washington Speakers Bureau, was unveiled by the students at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon.

It provides a priceless window into life on planet Palin, revealing, among other things, that the intellectually wobbly Republican refuses to take unscripted questions. "For Q&A, the questions are to be collected from in advance [and] pre-screened. A designated representative... shall ask questions directly of the Speaker."

She also requires at least two bottles of mineral water on stage with her, and "bendable straws placed near the wooden lectern". Autograph hunters are banned, and she reserves the right to blackball journalists from unsympathetic news outlets from every event.

But it is Mrs Palin's lofty travel demands which have caused most mirth. The once-humble woman-of-the-people now requires all the trappings of a globe-trotting member of the celebrity elite: a fleet of SUVs, rooms in a "deluxe" hotel, and transport on a private jet.

"The private aircraft MUST BE a Lear 60 or larger." When Ms Palin "changes her mind and opts to fly via commercial flights" she will travel first class while staff put up with economy.

The university says the event was exempt from public disclosure laws because it was financed by the Stanislaus Foundation, a fundraising arm of the university. That argument cuts little ice with California's attorney general, Jerry Brown. With an eye to his attempt to become Democratic governor, he's launched an investigation into the affair. "This is not about Sarah Palin," Mr Brown said. "She has every right to speak at a university, and schools should strive to bring to campus a broad range of speakers. The issues are public disclosure and financial accountability."

Must-haves: The list

* The private aircraft MUST BE a Lear 60 or larger... if the speaker changes her mind and opts to fly via commercial flights for US events, the customer must be prepared to cover the cost of first class round trip airfare for two.

* Customer agrees to provide the speaker and travelling party with ground transportation ... Transportation will be by SUV(s)... if SUV(s) are not available, black town cars may be substituted.

* Customer agrees to provide the speaker and party with accommodations of a pre-registered one bedroom suite and two single rooms in a deluxe hotel. In addition to room and tax charges, customer agrees to pay for all meals and incidentals (incidentals include but not limited to phone, fax and computer equipment/services at the hotel).

* Unless agreed to at the firm invitation stage, customer shall not permit or assist in the request for autographs while the speaker is on-site.

* A spotlight directly on the speaker should be avoided. Unopened bottled still water (2 bottles) and bendable straws are to be placed in or near the wooden lectern. A representative... will open the water at an appropriate time.