Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Family group calls on legislators to hold universities accountable for public funds

LEXINGTON, KY—A family group today questioned the media spin coming from U of L President James Ramsey concerning a criminal investigation at his university and called for closer financial scrutiny by legislators of university spending. Dean Robert Felner and U of L’s education department are under federal investigation for the possible misappropriation of millions in educational grant dollars.

While U of L announced appointment of an auditor to look into grant appropriations, Ramsey had previously been dismissive, telling WHAS-11 News that many people “get a little weak and violate the law every once in a while.”

“Legislators must exercise their power of oversight to hold the universities accountable for the millions they are failing to manage responsibly,” said David Edmunds of The Family Foundation. “Attempts by the legislature to hold the universities accountable are often met with hostility by administrators who charge the legislature with ‘micro-management,’” Edmunds said. “But taxpayers should be asking, ‘Who’s manning the store?’”

U of L President James Ramsey also admitted in the WHAS interview, “There’s no system of internal controls anywhere” in relation to oversight of grant money. “Today’s announcement that U of L will appoint an independent auditor will appear to some as media spin. Given U of L’s track record, they are losing credibility on the issue of accountability with the people’s money and it is time for the legislature to step in.”

This investigation comes on the heels of controversy regarding U of L’s expenditure of a $1 million “bucks-for-brains” state grant on “drag queen research” and UK’s expenditure of tax and tuition dollars on advocacy for Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, and The Fairness Alliance.

“Given U of L’s track record of violating the law [the Marriage Amendment] and of giving false testimony to legislators about U of L subsidizing domestic partner plans, Ramsey’s media spin and remarks in defense of Felner’s potential criminal activity are beginning to look like a pattern and are deeply troubling,” said Edmunds.

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