Wednesday, June 21, 2017
In keeping with its tradition of big-name and big-bucks investigations, the University of California will pay up to $210,000 for an independent look into allegations that President Janet Napolitano’s office interfered with a recent state audit into its spending habits.
UC will pay the law firm of Hueston Hennigan a “blended” rate of $595 an hour for partners who work on the investigation and $395 an hour for associates. The tab will be capped at $165,000, unless the UC regents give the OK to spend more. In addition, UC is tapping former state Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno to help with the investigation for a fee “not to exceed $45,000.”
The investigation was prompted by a state audit that found that Napolitano’s office had squirreled away $175 million and had tampered with campuses’ responses to a state survey on the effectiveness of programs run by the president’s office. While $210,000 for an investigation is a hefty price, it is just a fraction of the $1 million that the president’s office spent investigating allegations of wrongdoing by former UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi. That probe, headed by former U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag, led to Katehi’s resignation in August.
In 2012, UC paid $445,879 to the security consulting firm Kroll Associates to help with a task force headed by former state Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso looking into the pepper spaying of student demonstrators by UC Davis police.
More recently, the president’s office spent $57,671 on the probe into how outgoing UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks received a free campus gym membership, personal training sessions and an elliptical machine — perks that totaled all of about $5,000.
Monica Lozano, who chairs the Board of Regents, declined to discuss the review of the president’s office while it is under way. As for the other investigations, UC spokeswoman Dianne Klein said UC had “a legal and ethical responsibility to determine the facts when there is credible evidence that might suggest improper activity.”