While hundreds of thousands of her students struggle to pay for rising college costs, Janet Napolitano, the President of the vast University of California education system, maintained an $11,500 university funded apartment and a whopping $175 million secret reserve, or slush fund. The former Governor of Arizona, Ms. Napolitano, also previously served as the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security under President Obama and was a close Obama confidante.
The shocking disclosures came in findings from California state auditors. They revealed that a total of “$862,000 was spent on Napolitano’s Oakland apartment over the past four years. That cost includes the $11,500 monthly rent for the 3,400-square-foot apartment, which was paid through endowment funds.” Napolitano is single and has no children. “Napolitano, as part of her employment, is required to live in a university-owned or -leased home, and that the apartment is (allegedly) used for official university business.”
Lawmakers in California said Napolitano’s expenditures and financial dealings “should have been disclosed (previously) to the public and the Board of Regents, which oversees the 10-campus university system.” Legislators from both sides of the aisle pounced on the revelations as tone deaf and evidence of arrogance, with one saying “holy cow manure.”
Auditors found Napolitano increased Administrative spending in the president’s office by an incredible 28%, or $80 million, from fiscal years 2012-13 to 2015-16.
The trouble for Napolitano may just be getting started. California State Auditors “charged that the president’s office interfered with the audit and tampered with surveys intended to provide independent opinions from UC campuses”.
Looking further into the audit records, The San Francisco Chronicle found that Napolitano’s office spent $4,200 on a retirement party for the director of UC’s California Digital Library. The Chronicle identified 20 parties for departing employees that cost more than $500 between 2014 and 2016. Ten of those were more than $1,000. For the average college party, that’s a lot of beer.
“Also included in the itemized spending was a dinner tab worth more than a year of tuition. The president’s office paid $13,000 for dinner and security at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco for 86 people in January 2016 to honor two departing members of the Board of Regents. Dianne Klein, a spokeswoman for Napolitano, said the regents dinners are paid for through a private endowment, not state funds.”
The spending also includes at least $2 million spent on cell phones and iPads over four years. “The number of cell phones and other devices issued by the president’s office increased 29 percent from 2012 to 2016 . During the same period, under orders from California Gov. Jerry Brown — who was working to decrease state costs — the state was drastically cutting the number of cell phones issued to state workers by an estimated 30 percent,” according to The Chronicle.
Ms. Napolitano was hired as President of the UC system in large part because of her track record as a politician supposedly able to negotiate with the enormous web of government money and interests which support the 238,000 students and 190,000 faculty and staff she oversees.
Responding to the audit, Ms. Napolitano partially fell on her sword saying “we are sorry we did it this way,” referring to how her office operated, but not necessarily for any specific expenditure.
Tuition at UC schools is going up this year by 3 percent, to $12,630.