Federal College of DuPage probe won't hamper state audit push yet

 
 
Updated 4/16/2015 4:04 PM
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  • Federal investigators are looking at College of DuPage at a time when state lawmakers want an audit, too.

      Federal investigators are looking at College of DuPage at a time when state lawmakers want an audit, too. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

A federal investigation into the College of DuPage won't stop suburban lawmakers from pushing for a state audit of the community college, at least for now.

The federal investigation was revealed Wednesday when the college released subpoenas it received seeking documents, records and account information from COD. The community college has seen under heightened scrutiny since its board gave President Robert Breuder a $762,868 severance package.

In some previous cases, federal authorities have asked state lawmakers to hold off so an investigation won't be impeded.

"I think a performance audit is absolutely needed," state Rep. Ron Sandack, a Downers Grove Republican, said. "Now, if the feds tell (state Auditor General Bill Holland) to stop, which they have precedents for, there's no doubt in my mind he will respond to their wishes and let them do their thing unimpeded."

Sandack and state Rep. Jeanne Ives, a Wheaton Republican, are trying to win approval for the state audit in Springfield, but Holland wants the college to pay for it. The college hasn't yet agreed to do so.

State Sen. Tom Cullerton, a Villa Park Democrat, said he's asked his staff to find out if state lawmakers' efforts would interfere with the feds.

If the two are complementary, he'd like to see state lawmakers move forward. If not, Cullerton would like to delay state proposals until the feds give the go-ahead.

"I'm not going to get in the way of a federal investigation," he said.

The spokeswoman for the U.S. attorneys office declined to comment.

Ives says she's not surprised the feds stepped in.

"I was expecting this was going to happen," Ives said. And I will say that I believe there is more to come."

Last year, a separate federal investigation into a state anti-violence program clashed with lawmakers' review of a scathing audit of the program.

Sandack says results from that investigation could be "instructive" for a COD investigation.

"We heard from the U.S. Attorney from the central district of Illinois, who asked us at one point not to move on something, and we stopped. And then they said go ahead. So there is precedent," Sandack said.

The DuPage County state's attorney's office is also conducting an investigation of COD.

• Daily Herald Political Editor Mike Riopell contributed to this story

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