CHAPEL HILL – On Thursday, members of the UNC Board of Governors’ audit committee discussed confidential information—but they’re keeping quiet about whether the conversation dealt with the Matt Kupec scandal.
Around 9:30 Thursday morning, audit committee members went into closed session. Just before shutting their doors to the public, they announced that they’d be discussing what they called “alleged criminal misconduct” during the closed session portion of the meeting. UNC System Vice President for Communications Joni Worthington says she’s not at liberty to discuss any conversation that takes place during closed session meetings—including whether Matt Kupec’s resignation was part of the agenda.
Fortunately, tomorrow is Friday and this will all be over.
Also appearing today on the University of North Carolina School of Government Blog on Criminal Law is perhaps an interestingly relevant post by Jeff Welty, a well respected legal analyst for the NCSOG. For perspective, this blog is often referred to by lawyers, judges and law enforcement to help answer questions surrounding the ever-evolving world of criminal jurisprudence in North Carolina. After each legislative session and each session of our high courts, there are law changes that require being hashed out and interpreted. In short, Welty and the NCSOG are well-respected NC legal analysts.
Today’s Blog entry is titled: Link.
You should take a moment to read the entire entry, but here’s a primer to get you thirsty for more:
A couple of recent news stories led me to think about the possibility of a particular type of class disparity in the criminal justice system. Here are the two stories:
– Two big-time UNC fundraisers have resigned. The two were dating. They went on several trips together, at university expense, to locations where one of the fundraisers’ sons was playing college basketball for Notre Dame. Chancellor Holden Thorp has described the trips as “personally driven,” suggesting that they were not legitimate fundraising endeavors.
– According to auditors, an official with the Department of Public Instruction “claimed more than $3,200 in unjustified travel reimbursements by padding his mileage reports.” The department apparently “plan[s] to seek refunds and impose disciplinary action.”
Both stories involve allegations of financial misconduct by state officials who are relatively high on the food chain. I have seen no suggestion, in reports on either matter, that criminal investigations are underway or that criminal prosecution is a possibility.
Let me emphasize that I don’t know any more about these stories than I’ve read in the news. I don’t know whether a criminal investigation, much less a criminal prosecution, is appropriate in either case. It’s also possible that a criminal investigation is underway in either or both instances and that it just hasn’t been reported.
Having said that, we do have laws against embezzlement and obtaining property by false pretenses. And I wonder whether a UNC bookstore worker who was suspected of fleecing the university out of thousands of dollars, or a school lunchroom worker who apparently misappropriated $3,200, would be allowed to resign or be disciplined without facing a criminal investigation. To generalize away from these specific cases, I’m asking whether financial misconduct committed by people in white-collar jobs is treated differently than misconduct of a similar magnitude committed by people in less prominent positions.
That piece, while fantastic in raising questions many are asking, is not nearly as pointed as the first comment thereunder. Isn’t that the way UNC has attempted to govern the entire flow of information through the scandal? Don’t speak your mind if you have concerns about the University’s approach to handling obvious misdeeds, or else fear repercussions on your next tenure review. Is it any wonder that to date only one strong-willed, ethical giant of a man, Professor Smith, has had the gumption to publicly reprimand his own institution for failing to see that their walls are crumbling down around them?
Also today Andrew Payne, a former member of the North Carolina Board of Governors and an author for prominent NC political blog HONESTNC.COM fired off an entry devoted to Link:
There’s a new scandal brewing at UNC Chapel Hill. As a part of their investigative reporting, the News and Observer has requested internal documents from the university’s dental foundation. The university has claimed the documents are not public records because the foundation is a “separate” not for profit organization.
The News and Observer responded with a harsh editorial, UNC made some bad calls:
One factor that brought all this to The N&O’s attention was an audit of the foundation helping the dental school, an audit that led to the resignation of the head of that foundation, who had been Tami Hansbrough’s boss. The N&O has been trying to obtain a copy of the dental foundation audit and related expense records, but has been told by foundation officials that those things are not public records. If they’re connected to a public university’s dental school and its fundraising, then they are public records and university and foundation officials only deepen suspicions when they try to claim otherwise. Thorp should support the release of the records immediately.
UNC chancellor Holden Thorp’s claims that the foundation is separate from the university are laughable. Try giving money to the foundation online, you’re redirected the university’s development site. The foundation appears to be staffed by UNC employees, with @unc email addresses. Just take a look below at this screen shot of the dental foundation’s website… which just so happens to be located on a university url: https://www.dentistry.unc.edu/foundation/
There is much more there to discredit the current position of UNC on continued refusal to comply with public information requests surrounding every prong of this ongoing scandal, including but not limited to this particular one. HonestNC is an interesting blog. Although it should probably be made clear that SFN in no way associates itself with all of HonestNC’s messages, SFN does share the concern of the lack of clarity UNC has provided during this athletic scandal that likely now touches every sport on campus at this point. HonestNC gives it’s purpose as “We are collective of artists, scientists, clergy and civic leaders fighting for equality, education and transparency in North Carolina.”
Mr. Payne, the former member of the UNC BOG, certainly has an interesting perspective on the current scandal that few of us share. Therefore, it’s worth perusing all of his opinions on how UNC has handled this mess. And let’s be honest, in the most kind words possible it’s a real mess.
This entry in particular is VERY interesting as it links two emails from UNC President Tom Ross and an email from a current member of the UNCBOG: Link.