California State Auditor Elaine Howle wants University of California regents to consider disciplining university employees who repeatedly interfered with a state audit, tried to hide their actions, misled investigators and withheld requested information until threatened with court action, according to a private report by her office obtained by The Los Angeles Times.
Howle’s office began investigating UC interference in a state audit on the performance of UC President Janet Napolitano’s office after a whistleblower complaint early this year. Like a separate inquiry commissioned by regents whose results were released last week, Howle’s investigation determined that Napolitano approved a plan instructing the UC system’s 10 campuses to submit responses to confidential questionnaires about her office for review by her aides before sending them on to the state auditor.
Both investigations found that Napolitano’s aides asked campuses to tone down or delete criticisms. But neither found sufficient evidence that Napolitano knew her aides planned to do this. Napolitano told investigators that had she known, she would not have approved their plan.
Both reports primarily blamed Napolitano’s Chief of Staff Seth Grossman and Deputy Chief of Staff Bernie Jones for the interference. Howle’s report cited additional evidence of wrongdoing by Jones, including intentional failures at least twice to provide requested documents to the auditor and an inappropriate effort to identify the whistleblower.
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