The controversy surrounding the University of Central Florida misusing $38 million to build Trevor Colbourn Hall now has the attention of lawmakers in Tallahassee.
“I am baffled by how the actions of one irresponsible officer’s effort at flouting the Legislatures and State University system’s budget controls could result in a four-year-long unauthorized endeavor of this magnitude,” Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, Richard Corcoran wrote in a letter to UCF President Dale Whittaker. “There are only two possibilities: that others within UCF were aware of and conspired in this misuse of public funds, or your administration lacks the necessary internal controls to manage its fiscal responsibilities.”
Based on Corcoran’s assessment of the situation, he has decided to assign Speaker Designate as chairman of the House Public Integrity and Ethics Committee so that he can lead that committee’s immediate investigation into this matter.
The Speaker made it clear that what UCF has done to update its policies and procedures is not enough.”I expect the prompt adoption and publication of improved policies and procedures beyond what was described to the Board of Governors on September 13,” Corcoran said.
Corcoran also hopes UCF is considering ways to hold the former UCF Vice President of Administration and Finance/ Chief Financial Officer, William Merck, personally responsible for his “willful conduct.”
Knight News made a public records request associated with Merck’s retirement package to see if his involvement in this scandal impacted the amount of retirement money he will receive. So far UCF has not provided those records.
After receiving Corcoran’s letter, Whittaker released a statement:
“Speaker Corcoran is correct that UCF and the state need to get to the bottom of this. We’ve taken immediate, aggressive action to thoroughly and transparently investigate this matter, how it happened and who was involved.”
As Knight News previously reported, Merck stepped down yesterday after he admitted to misusing $38 million worth of carryforward E&G (Educational and General) funds for the construction of Trevor Colbourn Hall.
This E&G fund is designed for operational purposes only, according to Corcoran.