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An Augean Stable Seeks Its Hercules

CU and its Foundation need either the blowtorch or the cleansing flood of a course changed river

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, March 02, 2005.

In October of 2002, during the race for the CU Regent seat in the 2nd Congressional District, eventual winner and Democrat Cindy Carlisle sent an open letter to the CU Foundation concerning past activities of her opponent, Diane Greenlee. Greenlee had served with the CU Foundation, a service Greenlee emphasized in her campaign as her strong connection to CU. It was an issue raised on KGNU during a debate the two had the week of Halloween that year, Greenlee by phone.

In the letter, Carlisle wondered if Greenlee "may have chaired the committee with oversight over the use of public funds for operations which external consultants found had been mismanaged to the extent that CUF effectiveness was for a time significantly hampered." Carlisle made requests for information about the Foundation and how it spent the millions of taxpayer dollars it received from the University each year. Also: note that external audits of the Foundation had already, years ago, raised questions about how it handled money. The Foundation shined all that on, and was annoyed Carlisle had the bad taste to raise the issue.

In lockstep, Republican Greenlee and the CU Foundation said Carlisle was politically motivated. The Foundation provided reams of paper, little of which addressed the requested information. Frustrated, Carlisle was asked if she’d take legal action. "I'm not going to pursue legal action against the Foundation at this time. I had just hoped they'd honor a request for documentation on their use of public funds. I'm disappointed they're not more open with their expenditures. I think openness leads to accountability, and accountability leads to strength." Anno 2002.

Anno 2005. The Foundation still has not provided the answers Carlisle requested, but now that’s the least of its problems. The Foundation has, if the leaked Grand Jury investigative papers can be believed and like the University itself, acted as a criminal organization, guilty of malfeasance in the use of public funds. If Carlisle doesn’t care anymore, I – and I’d bet others - certainly would like to know if Diane Greenlee, the wife of former Congressional Candidate and former Boulder Mayor Bob Greenlee, was chairing or in anyway involved with the appropriations and spending of that public money; money directly related to the football scandals. Odd the media hasn't inquired.

But of course, the Foundation being a 501c3 tax free entity, it’s all public money from some points of view. The Foundation’s arrogant demeanor in years past has lowered of late, since virtually everyone everywhere agrees that Foundations that handle public funds are subject to the sunshine that public funding should always have and is required to have. The Foundation now squirms like a snail under a handful of salt, and every move it makes, every boilerplate defense of positions that don’t actually apply to its reality, gives off the odor of guilt. Trust your nose.

This is probably, more than the sex, booze, alcohol, and rape aspects of the specific football scandal, the worst horror in CU’s current baggage. I predict that even with much political pressure to tamp down all the revelations to emerge from it, the CU Foundation will be found guilty on a number of genuine problem issues. Watch the scramble to cover various posteriors.

For one thing, the CU Foundation treated a Grand Jury as badly as it treated Carlisle, and has yet to provide subpoenaed documents long requested, including bank records. When people wonder why only a low level flunky and fluffer for the athletic department was indicted, the likely reason is that the Grand Jury was still awaiting significant evidence that the Foundation and University were required to give them and to date have not. I’m under the old fashioned impression that subpoenaed documents are, you know, important and if you don’t provide them there are punishments. Like jail. Sort of like those reporters who won’t reveal their sources are threatened with jail. So how come that isn’t happening here?

There is much good news. The Foundation seems to have infuriated both Republicans and Democrats and Governor Owens has been seen actually salivating and entering long periods of insane-sounding cackling when asked if he’d approve a renewed investigation. The Democratic state legislature is, to say no more, motivated. CU is a modern day Augean Stable, and everyone, come next election, wants to be seen as the Hercules who cleaned them out.

When this is over, it would be well to recall who fought the long battles for the good side, who fought for the bad, and who tried to position themselves with the eventual winners for social status. Number one on that list for Heroes should go the name Lisa Simpson, the young lady whose horrible experiences in her own apartment led directly to the cleaning out of this awful dunghill. She stood up and was counted and not only took blows from CU athletics but from the cynical likes of me.