State legislators ask for subpoena and forensic audit for UC funding

Dante Acosta. Dan Watson/The Signal
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Seeking financial transparency from the University of California president, state legislators held a meeting Tuesday to see whether $175 million worth of funding was mishandled.

These millions of dollars directed by Janet Napolitano, president of the UC system, was put into an undisclosed fund which was not made available to the public, according to the California state auditor. University of California officials denied this.

State legislators met with Napolitano and the State Auditor Elaine Howle on Tuesday afternoon to ask for a subpoena for financial records and proof of all electronic correspondence about funding between employees of the UC president’s office.

Additionally, the legislators asked for an independent forensic audit to determine whether the UC’s actions were criminal.

Assemblyman Dante Acosta (R-Santa Clarita) holds a position on the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, which held the meeting alongside the Higher Education Committee and the Budget Subcommittee.

“It’s not a question at this point whether or not the Office of the President needs a change in how they operate, what is yet to be determined is if laws were broken,” Acosta said.

Additionally, the auditor’s reports said UC officials edited employees’ responses to remove negative information and withheld financial data, Acosta’s office said.

A result of the mismanagement of funds would mean an unnecessary increase in tuition and fees for UC students, Acosta’s office said.

“Every dollar in unnecessary tuition and fee increases means another deserving student who can’t afford to attend a UC,” he said.

“It means an extra year of paying student loans for graduates already crushed under the weight of debt, it means auctioning off the dream of home ownership and financial freedom to pay off debt and it means parents and grandparents deferring retirement to help their children achieve the California dream of an affordable education.”

Best case scenario, the funding discrepancy money was spent as directed, and worst case is the money was mishandled criminally, according to Acosta’s office.

Acosta’s office speculated that if the money was not spent for academic purposes, it may have gone to administrators’ pay or home remodels.

Universities of California are constitutionally independent of the legislature.

 

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