Former Obama cabinet member Janet Napolitano busted for $175M university slush fund

Former Obama cabinet member Janet Napolitano busted for $175M university slush fund

A report released Tuesday by the California state auditor revealed that the University of California hid $175 million from the public in secret funds while its administrators demanded more money from the state.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the buck stopped at the desk of the university system’s president Janet Napolitano, formerly Barack Obama’s Secretary of Homeland Security.

Under the leadership of … Napolitano, the UC Office of the President amassed millions in the secret reserve funds in part by overestimating how much it needed to run the 10-campus university system — and then spending less than budgeted, the audit said. From 2012 to 2016, the office sought increased funding based on the inflated estimates, not actual spending, according to [Auditor Elaine] Howle.

Howle also accused the university of interfering with the audit by inappropriately screening the confidential responses of campus administrators to her office’s survey, resulting in some answers being changed or deleted. She said she is looking into whether the university violated any laws or policies on interference.

The Chronicle obtained a statement from California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom that read in part, “It’s outrageous and unjust to force tuition hikes on students while the UC hides secret funds, and I call for the tuition decision to come back before the Board of Regents for reconsideration and reversal.” Newsom is himself one of 26 regents.

Napolitano has denied the claims that her office improperly kept money stashed away, saying the funds had been set aside for unexpected expenses. In a statement, her office responded:

The true amount is $38 million, which is roughly 10 percent of [the office’s] operating and administrative budget, a prudent and reasonable amount for unexpected expenses such as cybersecurity threat response and emerging issues like increased support for undocumented students and efforts to prevent sexual violence and sexual harassment.

Ben Bowles

Ben Bowles

Ben Bowles is a freelance writer.


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