MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - By now you've heard that ASU's interim President has secured legal counsel for and I quote, "university officials in their personal and official positions regarding the agreed upon procedures of the forensic audit and certain other investigations;" this alone certainly got our attention, but couple this with the cost of the lawyer secured - $375 an hour – and it's a head scratcher.
Why you may ask? Well in 2010 Governor Riley issued an executive order that limits the hourly fees that an arm of the state may pay except under "extraordinary circumstances" that are preapproved. The executive order states "no legal contracts for any state agency shall exceed a rate of $195 per hour" unless it is approved by the governor. A couple of points here - number one, the executive order is still in effect from the previous administration and number two, according to the governor's office no such exception was sought by ASU for legal fees which are 102% higher than allowed by the executive order.
There seems to be a blatant disregard for procedure and protocol as it pertains "orders." One would think that a university waiting for results from not one, but two audits would do everything possible to stay within the lines until such results are publicly released – but that's not the case. So now the spotlight shines even brighter.
This is a public university, funded with public money that is going through a very public opening of its books. That public money just so happens to be from us – the public – so if someone can explain to us why our public university is justified in overpaying for legal services we would be all ears.