COD audit: Kathy Hamilton violated ethics rules

  • A College of DuPage internal audit found Chairwoman Kathy Hamilton violated college ethics rules by endorsing candidates in the April election. Hamilton calls the report "absurd."

      A College of DuPage internal audit found Chairwoman Kathy Hamilton violated college ethics rules by endorsing candidates in the April election. Hamilton calls the report "absurd." Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

 
 

College of DuPage Chairwoman Kathy Hamilton violated ethics rules by using her position to help candidates on the "Clean Slate" ballot win their seats on the board in the April election, according to an internal audit.

The report states Hamilton broke the college's ethics rules several times during the campaign, such as by:

• Attending a fundraiser for the "Clean Slate" candidates thrown by former congressman Joe Walsh in March.

• Endorsing the "Clean Slate" candidates at a news conference in February.

• Asking people to vote for the "Clean Slate" candidates in a post on her community Facebook page in January.

The "Clean Slate" candidates -- Deanne Mazzochi, Frank Napolitano and Charles Bernstein -- all won seats in April's election and made a new board majority with Hamilton.

Hamilton called the audit "absurd."

"Everybody knows that politicians endorse other candidates," Hamilton said Thursday night. "Common sense tells you that this report is absurd."

College policy states that no trustee or employee shall intentionally perform any prohibited political activity during any compensated time.

Kim Savage, a former trustee who was not re-elected in April, said Thursday night she felt Hamilton crossed the line during the campaign.

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"I know from being a trustee that it's hard to navigate the line between being compliant with the ethics policy and violating it," Savage said. "I have had to try over the years to make sure people understood when I was endorsing someone I was doing it as me and not as a trustee of the college."

The "Clean Slate" candidates ran on a platform to reform the college, which has been the site for several headline-grabbing controversies in recent months including the previous board's approval in January of a $762,868 buyout of college President Robert Breuder's contract.

The controversial severance package is what eventually led to the launch of a series of federal and state investigations into the college's spending and to Hamilton recruiting the candidates. The new trustees have voted in near lockstep with Hamilton since taking office in the spring.

The report was written by James Martner, COD's internal auditor, and sent to Breuder.

Martner writes in the report that because the state of Illinois has an ethics law similar to the college's, Breuder should seek legal assistance to determine whether those laws were violated as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

It is not known if the college is pursuing any punishment for Hamilton.

Martner also recently performed an audit that found the college lost $2.2 million in a risky investment fund and overall violated college policy on investing; that led to two top financial department administrators being placed on administrative leave last week.

College of DuPage Trustee Joe Wozniak said Thursday night he did not know about the college's audit of Hamilton but knew she pushed hard to get her allies elected.

"She had robocalls, mailings, went to certain events to publicize them," Wozniak said.

Wozniak said that since election the board has been split 4-3 on nearly every vote, something he hopes they can change.

"I'm hoping that in the near future we can all work together as a board. We're a team we're supposed to be working together," Wozniak said. "I think she thinks that she has the ball in her court and she can pretty much run the show."

Trustee Dianne McGuire suggested Hamilton was being hypocritical.

"On the one hand, Chairman Hamilton points to others who may have violated policy and places them on administrative leave," McGuire said Thursday night. "And yet, according to the internal audit report of March 16th, she has herself violated perhaps our most fundamental policy: the ethics policy."

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