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Monday, December 31, 2007

Adding Some Context to the Fiasco at Central Michigan University

The Peters Report has an excellent summary of the fiasco at CMU and there are several things that I didn't know earlier.

Public records, obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests, indicate Peters was one of several applicants for the $65,000-a-year position that involves teaching once a week for three hours and organizing a public policy-related forum each semester. But the former candidate for attorney general and governor was the only candidate interviewed when the Department of Political Science voted to hire him on February 26.


According to campaign finance reports with the Michigan Secretary of State’s Office, CMU Trustees Sam Kottamasu and Brian Fannon along with former Griffin chairman Craig Ruff have financially supported Peters’ political campaigns over the years, though this was never disclosed during the hiring process. Kottamasu has supported Peters in every campaign since 1998 and the two traveled to India together on a lobbying trip in 2000. As for Ruff, he gave Peters $200 on two separate occasions in 2002. CMU says no trustee was involved in the hiring process, and the school hasn’t said what role Ruff played other than being consulted for his opinion.


The school’s lobbyist, former Michigan State University trustee Kathleen Wilbur, was concerned enough to e-mail CMU President Michael Rao on February 28, stressing that “folks need to know Gary (Peters) is seriously considering running for Congress.”

“Joe Knollenberg is someone who we deal with relative to any CMU federal funding so this could get sticky,” she said.

Here are a few things I learned. First, initially Peters was the only one that was interviewed. It wasn't until the provost stepped in that someone else was even interviewed. Several prominent members of the CMU administration have contributed to prior campaigns of Peters. Peters was offered a position through 2010 even though this would be impossible if he actually won his seat. Peter's opponent in the congressional race has a lot of influence with regards to funding at CMU and thus that would mean that so would Peters.

This story is now unfolding for me. We have a corrupt process in which a clearly conflicted individual is not only hired but initially he is the only one even interviewed. Several emails paint not only this process but the entire climate at CMU as entirely too ideologically driven. Several prominent members of CMU have financial ties to prior campaigns of Peters. Furthermore, Peters would clearly be in a position to affect funding for CMU as well. The administration was quick to dismiss the concerns of its student body and yet paid great deference to the recommendation of the Governor.

Furthermore, when student Dennis Lennox tried to get to the bottom of the story, the administration tried to intimidate him and at one point even threatened to expel him. Stay tuned this story is not going away.

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