Investigation revealing Chancellor Dirks’ $4,990 misuse of public funds cost university $57,671

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Daniel Kim/Senior Staff

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An investigation into outgoing Chancellor Nicholas Dirks’ misuse of public funds, which revealed he failed to pay $4,990, cost the university a total of $57,671 to carry out — more than 10 times the cost of the misused funds — according to invoice documents obtained by The Daily Californian.

The UC Office of the President hired the independent firm Public Interest Investigations, Inc., based out of Los Angeles, to conduct the investigation in April 2016, as previously reported by the Daily Cal.

When asked why the investigation cost as much as it did, UCOP cited an effort to be comprehensive.

“Our aim was to conduct a fair and thorough investigation. Without a similar investigation, it would be difficult to do a comparison or characterize the costs,” said UCOP spokesperson Ricardo Vazquez in an email.

Campus had no involvement in the investigation, according to campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof, and therefore had no comment on the investigation’s cost.

In order to obtain this information, Public Interest Investigations, Inc., investigated over five months, from May to September 2016, for a total of 279 billed hours at $200 an hour. In addition to billed hours, Public Interest Investigations, Inc., included receipts for airfare, parking, restaurants, Lyft rides and hotels used by Keith Rohman, president of Public Interest Investigations, Inc., as he traveled back and forth from Los Angeles to Oakland.

According to the investigation, Dirks failed to pay for a campus gym membership and personal training sessions over two years. The investigation also found Dirks used a campus Precor Cross Trainer exercise machine in his home. The membership and personal training sessions came to $4,990, while the machine was found to be valued between $3,500 and $4,000, according to the investigation.

Dirks began his tenure in 2013 and resigned in August 2016, after extensive public scrutiny over his handling of campus sexual misconduct and the then-alleged misuse of public funds.

Public Interest Investigations, Inc., “has been helping businesses, law firms, educational institutions, and governmental entities uncover the facts for more than 30 years,” according to its website.

Public Interest Investigations, Inc., does not comment on investigations in the press, Rohman said in an email.

According to the firm’s website, Rohman is a recognized expert in the field of investigation and “has been involved in many high-profile cases,” including litigation related to the torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib and the trial against Los Angeles police officers accused of beating Rodney King.

Billed hours included items such as travel time, witness interviews, records requests, reviewing notes, evidence reports and analyzing emails. Conferences and interviews with UCOP staff were conducted at the start of the investigation.

According to the invoices, Rohman traveled north for the investigation via Southwest Airlines on three separate occasions, each flight costing more than $400.

Audrey McNamara is the executive news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @McNamaraAud.

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  • Native Son

    Wonderful, but all too typical. This is the sort of thing that could, and should, have been handled by a bean-counter in Oakland. It’s a paper trail, folks. You’re looking for a monthly payment of X dollars from person Y to organization Z. In other words, the “investigation” amounts to doing a computer search of some bank statements. The whole thing could have been handled by email and telephone.

    • BerkPed

      Yeah, in theory it could have been handled internally, in an organization that does not eat its young.

      It could not be handled internally in an organization that crushes internal dissent.

  • Alex

    “UC Office of the President” – if there is any reason to privatize, that is it!

    • Native Son

      Apparently it already has been “privatized.” As in “The money came from private endowments, not from the state budget.”

  • John

    and how many millions is the state spending on its various audits of UC?

  • Bob Bell

    Quis custodiet ipsos custodies?

    • ESPM360

      Not the failed media. It is now in the hands of the people.