The Board of Trustees hired Forensic Accounting & Consulting Services, Inc. Principal CFE, and CPA Jeremy Plank, to do an audit of travel expenses of the senior administration for FY19. Plank was the Chairman of the Madison County Republican Party and supported the four newest board members, David Heyen, Julie Johnson, Kevin Rust and Charles Handfelder during their campaigns.
On Nov. 7, the BOT voted for the approval of this agreement. But, before this could be voted upon Nursing Learning Specialist at Lewis and Clark Community College Dawna Egellhoff had some words to share during the open comment portion of the beginning of the meeting.
“It’s my understanding that the Madison County Republican Party helped support the campaign for the new board members. Jeremy happened to also take over the chair in January 2017. The same year Mr. Heyen ran and was sworn into Lewis and Clark’s Board,” Egellhoff said.
Egellhoff then went on to explain that this “Jeremy” is the same one who was hired for this forensic audit and has also been hired by Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville. L&C Board Member Rust sits on SIUE’s Foundation Board, too.
“I do play fair,” Egellhoff said. “Mr. Plank did step down from the Madison County Republican Chair so he could focus on professional endeavors, two months ago. I would think that the high profile and the outrage the community has towards the support for not giving Dr. Dale Chapman a contract would prompt them to seek professional investigation outside of the area to get unbiased information. Forgive me if I have trust issues, your behaviors have not warranted trust from me. I have grave concerns about the validity of information that would come from this company if agreement is accepted tonight. There are just too many correlations for me to not question the morals and ethics agenda behind all of this… So my last question is Mr. Plank the one who’s writing your script?”
In the previous board meeting Johnson questioned Chapman about how performance interviews were conducted for relatives among senior administration. Chapman confirmed that a nepotism policy is in place, and that the only relation that it currently pertains to is that of himself and his wife, Vice President of Academic Affairs Linda Chapman. All board meetings can be viewed on YouTube through L&C’s page.
When it came time to vote for the approval of this agreement, long time board member Brenda Walker McCain expressed skepticism during the discussion period before the vote took place.
“I read what the attorney had prepared based on an inquiry, and it raised questions for me regarding the conflict of interest possibilities. And, I want to know has any trustees received financial support from this association. Because if so, this would look like a political payback to me, or to anyone else. So, I wanted to know that, and even though even voting on it would think that’s something they would abstain from,” McCain said.
Rust then explained, “I don’t quite know how to answer that.”
McCain expressed her concern with this answer and said it seemed like a conflict of interest, and asked who selected the firm. Johnson then gave her answer.
“That was my doing,” Johnson said. “I know Jeremy and he’s in this line of work. I think he’d be good at it. He has experience with the college. He’s someone that I trust, and it’s very important in this line of work that you trust who’s doing it because they might run across some sensitive issues, and it’s only $5,000.”
McCain countered, “But honestly, Julie, you all question anything at any level, and you know him, I don’t know him. And then I also look at the fact you know we have historically clean audits, and we have an outstanding and qualified administration and accounting staff, and they have continuously provided you with numerous reports to great detail.”
After more back and forth between McCain, Rust and Johnson as to the reason for the forensic audit, McCain said, “Well, I have a concern with the firm itself, since you cannot really pinpoint if any financial support was given.” In the end the board voted 4-2 in approval for the Forensic audit and the hiring of Plank. Board Member Dwight Werts was not at the meeting.