The D.C. auditor's draft report on financial expenditures at the University of the District of Columbia concludes that President Robert L. Green has misspent at least $14,000 of university funds, including overspending for some travel expenses and sending flowers to a longtime associate in Michigan.
Green, whose use of university funds for personal expenses has become a source of growing concern among university trustees and top administrators, sent flowers to a "close associate" who also received $12,600 in consulting fees from UDC during fiscal 1984, according to Auditor Otis H. Troupe's report.
Troupe's description of the unnamed recipient of flowers matches a description in university records of Cassandra A. Simmons, one of Green's former students and now a faculty member at Michigan State University, where Green was a professor and dean before coming to UDC in September 1983.
Copies of Simmons' contracts with UDC, obtained by The Washington Post under the D.C. Freedom of Information Act, show that she received $12,600 in consulting fees in fiscal 1984 for reports relating to student affairs programs and a new research center at the university. University officials, asked about Simmons, did not dispute that she is the associate mentioned in Troupe's report.
The $14,000 of allegedly misspent funds cited in the report includes money that was spent on travel and consulting fees Green received prior to taking over as president and a total of $2,000 from Green's discretionary fund to buy flowers for personal business.
Green and other university officials declined yesterday to comment on the report. Simmons could not be reached at her home in East Lansing, but said during a telephone interview last month that she was proud of the work she had done as a consultant for UDC.
Vincent H. Cohen, a Washington lawyer and special counsel to the UDC board of trustees, criticized Troupe's handling of the audit investigation yesterday in a letter to City Council Chairman David A. Clarke. Cohen contended that Troupe violated auditing standards by releasing information to reporters about the matter before his office had completed the audit.
"Mr. Troupe's actions have perhaps irreparably and unjustifiably tarnished the university's reputation," Cohen wrote. "Such action by a public official must not be countenanced but instead should receive swift and appropriate censure and sanction."
Troupe, who was out of town and unavailable for comment, and his staff have repeatedly declined to discuss details of his audit or release information about it to The Post.
Several university officials, who acknowledge that Green showed bad judgment in some of his expenditures, nonetheless are highly critical of Troupe and say that his preliminary report is biased and unfair to the university.
These officials questioned Troupe's methodology and said they believe parts of the audit are inaccurate and that Troupe ignored documents submitted by Green that would refute charges that he overcharged the university for travel. One official said Green had repaid some of the money spent on flowers.
The current controversy that some officials say has threatened Green's presidency began last month following reports in The Post that Green had billed the university for trips to two funerals and a wedding and spent $83,200 of university funds for catering and nearly $18,000 on small household items. Earlier this week, Troupe issued a letter report stating that Green and his wife, Lettie, had acted illegally in using UDC's tax exemption number to avoid paying sales tax on nearly $2,500 of personal items they purchased at Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman-Marcus and Garfinckel's department stores.
Green has admitted that several of the trips he took were for personal business and has promised to repay the university, but he contends that his expenditures for household items and for entertainment were legitimate.
The 15-member board of trustees met last Monday night in executive session to discuss the audit report and decided to hire Coopers & Lybrand, a major accounting firm, to review Troope's findings and make recommendations about them.
Green is the third man in the past eight years to serve as UDC president. He replaced Benjamin Alexander, who served for less than a year and resigned under pressure from the trustees. Several trustees said this week that they are disturbed by the reports about Green's expenditures but fear that the university would be severely hurt by yet another change at the top if Green were forced out.
"A lot is dependent on his personal ability to overcome it, to regain credibility," said one top university official. "The desire and the expectation is to hold on to him. I am very hopeful he can survive."
Mayor Marion Barry yesterday declined to comment on Troupe's report. Earlier this week, Barry said he had "some thoughts but no comments" about Green's situation.
Rep. Mervyn M. Dymally (D-Calif.), chairman of a House District of Columbia subcommittee on judiciary and education, may schedule hearings on the reports of expenditures and has expressed his concern to university officials, an aide to Dymally said yesterday.
University officials have begun to mount an unusual public relations campaign to promote Green and to try to offset negative publicity about his conduct.
"Our problem is how to reestablish his credibility and the university's credibility," said a high-ranking university official. "We're dealing with the cumulative effect of a series of revelations about Green . Now we're digging in."
Green has declined to speak with most reporters since early June, when the controversy first began. However, he appeared two weeks ago on "Sound Off," a local public affairs radio program with host Calvin Rolark, a local newspaper publisher and husband of City Council member Wilhelmina J. Rolark (D-Ward 8). During his hour-long appearance, Green was asked no questions about his financial problems at UDC.
Green has told close associates that he intends to fight back and has begun contacting council members, congressmen, community and church leaders to try to rally support. On several occasions Green has said that he has received numerous death threats from unidentified callers as a result of news reports about his expenditures.
Calvin Rolark, who publishes The Washington Informer, said this week that he doesn't think Green intentionally did anything wrong.
"It's just due to ignorance and inexperience," Rolark said. "He should be innocent until proven guilty. We are desirous of the president having the same rights as other university presidents and . . . that he not have to buy things in a second-hand store."
Brown, a lawyer and a close ally of the mayor, and Herbert O. Reid Sr., the mayor's special counsel, are the two most influential trustees and have orchestrated the campaign in defense of Green, according to sources close to the board, including the effort to raise questions about the veracity of the auditor's report on Green.
Brown, whose term expired last year but who is staying on until the mayor appoints a new board member, played a major role in bringing Green to UDC and in arranging the terms of his contract, which includes an annual salary of $74,900, the use of a university-owned house in Northwest Washington, with two full-time housekeepers, and a chauffeur-driven car.
Reid is among several board members vying to replace Brown as chairman. According to a source, Reid believes Green is in a tenuous position but he is anxious to do whatever he can to spare the university the agony of ousting Green and finding a new president.
The board's makeup has changed in the past few years with the departure of several trustees who were considered by many to be totally independent of the mayor in their thinking about UDC.
Key members of the board include N. Joyce Payne, an official of a higher education association; Peter B. Edelman, a professor at Georgetown University Law Center; Daniel I. Fivel, a professor at the University of Maryland; Joseph Webb, a UDC alumnus and the night principal of a community learning center, and Lorraine H. Whitlock, a Ward 7 political activist.
Some critics of the board, including members of the D.C. City Council, have blamed the trustees for failing to ensure tighter financial controls and management.
A congressional report issued last September by Dymally's subcommittee suggested that the composition of the UDC board is too narrow and that a different appointment process could make it more representative of the diverse interests of the District.
The audit report -- the first of several expected to be released by Troupe -- was distributed this week for comment to Green, board members, UDC's internal auditor and City Council member Hilda Mason (Statehood-At Large), who requested the audit. The report deals only with the UDC president's representation fund, a $15,000 annual discretionary account used to cover expenses the president incurs while representing the university on official business.
The report said that Green overbilled the university for travel expenses and failed to turn in original copies of his receipts. It was not clear how much of the $2,000 spent on flowers was for flowers sent to Simmons
Simmons, 39, met Green when she was a student at Michigan State in the mid-1970s, according to students and faculty members interviewed in East Lansing and elsewhere last month. According to her resume, Simmons and Green coauthored several articles about school desegregation during the past 10 years. Simmons was once Green's research assistant and they traveled to seminars and academic functions together, according to two faculty members who have known Green and Simmons for more than 10 years.
Simmons currently is an assistant professor of urban counseling at Michigan State. Green was dean of the urban affairs program before he moved to UDC 22 months ago.
Documents released under the District's freedom of information law show that Simmons received six consulting contracts from UDC between late August 1983 and July 1984. She and two other consultants also received a $20,000 contract from the D.C. Department of Public Works in July 1984 that was paid for with UDC funds, according to UDC documents.
In addition, UDC records show that Simmons was on the UDC payroll as a management adviser in Green's office for 35 days in late 1983 and early 1984 and earned $2,000. A top UDC administrator said that university officials had made a mistake in putting her on the payroll, rather than paying her directly for the consulting work, and that it was probably done to speed up the payment.
In an interview in early June, Green said that Simmons was one of five former colleagues at Michigan State whom he hoped to recruit for permanent positions at UDC.
Simmons said during a telephone interview last month that she did not receive her consulting contracts because of her friendship with Green and that she had produced "very serious reports" for the university.
"I should hope I got the contracts because of my professional experience," she said. "I'm very proud of the work I've done."