How a college hid $95 million in expense like booze, shooting clubs

How a college hid $95 million in expense like booze, shooting clubs

by Drew Johnson | The Washington Times

Warning: Parents being crushed by the ever-rising tuition bills might want to stop reading right now.

The second-largest college in Illinois has been rocked by a financial scandal caused by shady bookkeeping and a litany of questionable purchases, including a pricey shooting club membership for the school’s president, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in alcohol purchases accounted for in the books as an “instructional supply.”

The College of DuPage managed to hide more than $95 million in expenditures on more than 82,600 transactions since 2009 thanks to a peculiar type of accounting that allowed for thousands of purchases to be lumped together into one line item, according to data uncovered by American Transparency’s OpenTheBooks.com, an online portal aggregating 1.3 billion lines of federal, state and local spending.

Officials at the two-year community college in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, are accused of relying on questionable accounting practices and altering vendor names in an effort to make the school’s spending habits more difficult to track. Their spending was so deeply buried even members of the school’s own board of directors complained they have no ability to follow where the money goes.

“This board doesn’t know what it’s approving,” said Kathy Hamilton, a certified public accountant who serves as vice president of the college’s board of directors. “The fact is we don’t get any information about what’s being spent.”

But the administrators knew.

Robert Breuder, the school’s president, paid $23,686 to a private shooting club where he is a member, including $13,800 in dues, with the hidden money. He also used the school’s money to mask fees associated with three global satellite phones he used on exotic hunting trips and costs related to an overnight senior management retreat, according to Open The Books.

The union representing the school’s 306 full-time faculty members, who have clashed with Mr. Breuder in the past, last month approved a “no-confidence” vote in the president, accusing him of contributing to “an environment of turmoil, distrust, fear and intimidation.”

For wasting millions of taxpayers’ dollars and avoiding efforts to remain accountable for how it spends public money, the College of DuPage has earned the Golden Hammer, a weekly award highlighting particularly egregious examples of waste, fraud and abuse of tax dollars.

Mr. Breuder declined to comment for this story when approached by The Washington Times…(read full)