Lawmaker: Make State Support Of University Foundations Conditional On Audits


Earlier today I wrote about an opinion from Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem’s office which found that the Legislature doesn’t have the authority to order audits for the state’s university foundations.

The Legislative Audit And Fiscal Review Committee ordered audits of the foundations in a vote earlier this year. The foundations (specifically the NDSU Development Foundation) claim that they’re separate from the universities they serve, and private, and so are outside of the scope of legislative oversight, though that’s a little hard to believe given how intertwined the foundations are with the universities.

Anyway, Stenehjem bought their argument, but the Legislature still has recourse. I spoke with Rep. Bob Skarphol (R-Tioga) today while guest hosting the Jay Thomas Show on WDAY AM970 this afternoon and he told me there is an amendment in the works to make support for the foundations contingent on their acceptance of state audit authority.

“Yes, that amendment will be proposed,” he said. “I can assure you it’s going to come out.”

He said that Rep. Mark Sanford (R-Grand Forks) and Rep. Dave Monson (R-Osnabrock) are working with him to finalize the language of their amendment, which is actually something I proposed in my post earlier today.

I’d post the audio but Skarphol spoke via cell phone and his audio wasn’t very good. It wasn’t clear which bill the amendment would be attached to, but the logical path place for it would be the renewal of the Challenge Grant Fund which provides matching dollars from the taxpayers for private donations to the foundations.