List of contributions sparked a firestorm

November 11, 1990|By Patricia Meisol

The events that have turned Frostburg State University upside down the last two weeks began when a $200 campaign contribution to state Delegate Casper R. Taylor Jr., D-Allegany, from the Frostburg State University Foundation appeared in a list published by the Cumberland Times-News last August.

An exchange of letters between the foundation and Mr. Taylor followed, including an assurance to the university from him that the money was used for charitable causes.

Two months later, copies of the letters found their way to a reporter.

After initial denials, the university conceded that it had spent $1,240 for tickets to political fund-raisers, including $100 to a dinner honoring Gov. William Donald Schaefer, from a non-profit foundation account controlled by the president.

FSU President Herb F. Reinhard Jr. at first said his discretionary foundation account totaled about $3,000 a year and consisted of gifts he personally raised from local business leaders. Later, he conceded that more than half of it -- $10,000 -- came from an estate gift he moved into his account in 1988 without permission from foundation directors.

The cash came from the estate of Grace S. Kopp, who had willed the university stock but sold it before she died.

Although he received a copy of the will, Dr. Reinhard said he did not know that the veteran local school teacher had intended her gift to be used for scholarships.

He blamed subordinates for putting the gift into his account, only to have them deny it and a local lawyer condemn the transfer as unethical and possibly illegal.

"I think all of us were aghast when we discovered it," said C. William Gilchrist, referring to foundation members.

Amid the firestorm following the revelations, the governor's campaign announced it had found $2,200 in checks from other state university non-profit foundations.

Sen. Julian L. Lapides, D-Baltimore, who likened the practice to "money-laundering," vowed to renew his effort to open foundation books to the public. He has called a Nov. 20 hearing to investigate.

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