(From Press Release from Katehi’s Legal Team) – Tuesday morning’s revelation that the University of California President Janet Napolitano’s office mounted a $158,000 internet publicity campaign to suppress criticism of a scathing state audit shows the “utter hypocrisy” of Napolitano’s continuing investigation of UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi for exactly the same issue.
Katehi attorney Melinda Guzman called today’s news “another nail in the coffin” of the already controversial investigation by Napolitano and renewed her call that the investigation be scrapped.
“This investigation has been compromised from the moment President Napolitano disingenuously called for fairness and independence and launched the probe by splashing it in the media,” Guzman said. “In the ensuing weeks, it has been plagued by the revelation that Napolitano is investigating herself, that the lead investigator has a financial interest in a law firm that profits from millions in UC contracts, and the highly prejudicial information pumped out by Napolitano’s press office.”
“Linda Katehi will never receive fair treatment under this investigation,” Guzman said. “This morning’s astonishing revelation that Napolitano herself spent UC funds for similar so-called ‘internet scrubbing’ is further proof that the UC President does not have clean hands on this matter.”
Chancellor Katehi, who was placed on paid administrative leave April 27 by Napolitano, has been unfairly and falsely accused of backing a campaign of so-called “internet scrubbing” as part of the university’s overall marketing efforts.
And yet, as the Sacramento Bee reported Tuesday morning:
“In the wake of a scathing state audit released in March, the University of California mounted a $158,000 publicity campaign to dispute claims that its admissions policies had disadvantaged resident students. The campaign included a report rebutting the conclusions of the audit; digital ads on websites, Facebook and Twitter; and sponsorships on public radio stations throughout the state, according to documents obtained by The Sacramento Bee.”
Later in the article, Napolitano spokesperson Dianne Klein justified the expenditure, saying:
“Negative tends to stick in the public’s mind much more than positive news,” she said. “Rather than let a blemish take over the whole state, so to speak, we felt it was necessary and good to get out a positive message.”
Klein is the same Napolitano spokesperson who castigated Chancellor Katehi in April for UC Davis’ expenditures for exactly the same sort of online expenditures.
Katehi spokesperson Larry Kamer asked: “Shouldn’t someone from the UC Office of the President be placed on administrative leave because of this?”
Guzman added: “There is only one way Chancellor Katehi will get a fair hearing that finds facts and protects her rights. The UC Regents must step in. They need to scrap this compromised investigation and relaunch it, hiring a truly independent fact-finder who reports directly to them. Janet Napolitano and her people have become an irreparable liability,” she said.