The president of Villa Julie College received reimbursements from the school for her contributions to political campaigns -- actions that apparently run afoul of state elections law and Internal Revenue Service regulations.
Carolyn S. Manuszak acknowledged that she received $400 for campaign contributions made in 1995 and last year to state and local politicians.
In an interview Tuesday, Manuszak -- who has donated at least $4,000 to campaigns over the past decade -- said she could not recall whether she had been reimbursed for contributions made in her name.
Wednesday, she issued a written statement confirming several reimbursements, and said she had paid the school back last year after an internal college review showed the payments were "not appropriate."
"I would never knowingly violate the law, and I corrected the situation as soon as it came to my attention," Manuszak, who has a law degree, said in her statement responding to inquiries from The Sun.
Manuszak, 63, a former nun who has been president of the small, private college in Stevenson for more than three decades, said she repaid the college last year for contributions totaling $400 to a Baltimore County councilman and two General Assembly delegates.
Internal college documents obtained by The Sun, and interviews with employees who worked directly for Manuszak, show that she requested reimbursement for those contributions -- as well as other donations going back years.
In her statement Wednesday, Manuszak did not address the earlier contributions.
Maryland law prohibits political contributions made in a "false name." And the IRS bars nonprofit, tax-exempt organizations from contributing, even indirectly, to political campaigns.
Assistant Attorney General Mary O. Lunden said that "if I wanted to make a contribution to a candidate, then the money has to come from me."
Last year, for example, Pimlico Race Course and Laurel Park owner Joseph A. De Francis was fined $1,000 after pleading no contest to a charge of making illegal campaign contributions to Gov. Parris N. Glendening by funneling $12,000 through De Francis' grandmother, aunt and uncle.
Violation of the law is a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and a year in jail.
IRS spokesman Dominic J. LaPonzina said the federal regulations were created because taxpayers of all political persuasions are partially "subsidizing" nonprofit organizations by allowing the exemption from tax bills.
Villa Julie College is listed in state election records as contributor of $200 to then-Gov. William Donald Schaefer's 1990 re-election campaign. Manuszak described that contribution as "a fluke."
Donald B. Ratcliffe, a Stevenson architect who is chairman of Villa Julie's board of trustees, said, "We're satisfied with the president of the college and we're moving forward."
Villa Julie was founded in 1947 by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur to train medical secretaries.
Manuszak, president since 1964, has led the college's growth into a four-year school specializing in business education. The school offers associate's and bachelor's degrees in a number of fields, and a master's degree program in advanced information technology.
The college, which has about 1,800 students, has embarked on a $31.5 million expansion at its 60-acre campus on Greenspring Valley Road. Manuszak said $8 million of the project's cost -- including $6.5 million in state money -- comes from government aid.
The school's tax returns for recent years show that Villa Julie annually receives about $2 million in government aid.
Manuszak receives a salary of $160,985, plus more than $7,000 toward employee benefits and more than $92,000 for "expense account and other allowances," the school's most recent tax TTC return shows. She was admitted to the Maryland bar in 1977, according to records at the state Court of Appeals.
In October, Manuszak was in the news when Villa Julie was fined $1,312 after a state agency cited her for violating a law banning smoking in the workplace. The citation was issued in the college's name, but she said she would pay the fine herself.
Manuszak has for years made contributions -- usually $100 to $200 -- to political candidates.
Lisa Bielinski Baker, who said she resigned from her job as assistant to the president in July, said she followed Manuszak's written directions to submit paperwork for a reimbursement for a 1995 contribution of $200 to the campaign of Baltimore County Councilman Vincent J. Gardina.
Stacy Johnson, who said she resigned from her job in Manuszak's office after being stripped of most of her responsibilities last year, said Manuszak directed her to request reimbursement for contributions last year to the campaigns of Maryland House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr. and Del. Howard P. Rawlings of Baltimore.