Kentucky Auditor Mike Harmon to charge University of Louisville - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Kentucky Auditor Mike Harmon to charge University of Louisville up to $125,000 for foundation audit

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University of Louisville President James Ramsey University of Louisville President James Ramsey
Kentucky Auditor Mike Harmon Kentucky Auditor Mike Harmon

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) --  The University of Louisville will pay Kentucky Auditor Mike Harmon’s office up to $125,000 for Harmon’s forthcoming examination of U of L’s $1 billion nonprofit foundation.

Harmon outlined the cost of the audit – which includes staff time and travel for his office – in a Feb. 18 letter to U of L President James Ramsey, who is also president of the nonprofit foundation.

Michael Goins, spokesman for Harmon’s office, said the auditor’s office is allowed by state law to seek reimbursement from other governmental entities for its examinations and it’s “standard procedure” for those organizations to foot the bill.

Kathleen Smith, Ramsey’s chief of staff, said U of L officials have not determined whether the university, the foundation or both will shoulder the cost of the audit.

The auditor’s office got involved with U of L last year after news reports by WDRB and other outlets revealed the foundation’s multi-million-dollar compensation packages for university administrators, six-figure no-bid consulting deals for a longtime former foundation board member and payments to administrators from a separate nonprofit created by the foundation.

The foundation is governed by a board of directors who are selected, for the most part, with input from Ramsey, who is also a voting member of the foundation board. Members of the university’s Board of Trustees, on the other hand, are appointed by the governor.

In his Feb. 18 letter to Ramsey, Harmon wrote that the “primary focus” of his report will be to “evaluate whether the governance and oversight structure” between the trustee board and the foundation board is “sufficient to ensure accountability and transparency of Foundation spending as it relates to University activities.”

Harmon's letter does not say when the examination is expected to conclude.

Harmon, a Republican, unseated Democrat Adam Edelen in last November’s election. Shortly after taking office last month, Harmon decided to continue the U of L examination begun by Edelen.

As WDRB reported last year, Ramsey maintains a powerful position in the foundation. He serves as its chief executive, a voting member of its board, the permanent chair of the committee that nominates new board members and as a member of the foundation’s executive committee.

Some trustees would like to adopt a policy stating the president of the university cannot also serve as the president of the foundation – a move that would force Ramsey to choose between the two positions.

But that resolution, which was circulated in January, was not discussed at board meetings on Jan. 14 and is not on the agenda for Tuesday’s trustees meeting. The resolution was to be debated in the board’s personnel committee, but a scheduled meeting of the committee on Tuesday has been canceled.

Trustee Larry Benz, the chairman of the board, declined to comment. 

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