Fundraiser Says Sexism, Not Financial Mismanagement, Cost Her Job


David Krayden Ottawa Bureau Chief
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Kathleen Smith says her sex, not hiding millions of dollars in inappropriate spending, got her removed from the University of Louisville Foundation (ULF).

The foundation is a non-profit organization that raises money for the university. As The College Fix is reporting, an audit by Alvarez & Marsal has disclosed that Smith helped the former foundation president in the concealment of spending over an eight-year period.

Emails from the auditor detail just how Smith as foundation chief of staff sought to funnel $8.7 million of its endowment into shaky investments. She resigned last September not long after her boss, foundation and university president James Ramsey, pulled the plug.

But Smith’s lawyer says his client is the victim of a sexist “fall girl” plan that left her holding the bag for financial transactions that the foundation was aware of.

“This is a breach of Kathleen’s contract with the Foundation,” claimed lawyer Ann Oldfather wrote in a June 22 statement, “but worse it is a cowardly failure to stand behind fully transparent salary and compensation decisions that would never be questioned were she one of the highly-compensated men on these boards.”

Oldfather suggested that if Smith erred at all, her actions were redeemed by her clever fundraising that raised ample cash for the university.

“Consider the more than $235,000,000 in gifts and grants she brought to this University. Consider forty-six years of service to four UofL presidents. One thing is clear, many men are paid far more for far less. … There is no way it was a crime, or a breach of duty, to pay Kathleen what she was promised and what she so clearly deserved.”

But emails have surfaced thanks to the audit that document Smith asking, “how can we keep these participation agreements [deferred compensation schemes] from being subject to ORR [open-records requests]?”

Moreover, Smith was also busy keeping ULF subsidiaries from the prying eyes of the public. In September 2013, she was seeking legal advice on how best to keep a local newspaper from examining foundation records. She believed a disgruntled former employee was aiding and abetting the Louisville Courier-Journal with an expose of the foundation.

The obfuscation continued as she tried to reconfigure documents in order for them “to be difficult to figure out for media.” In an April 2012 letter, Smith was asking client to destroy an email she had previously sent as “I have done same here.”

According to the Student Press Law Center, Smith provides a panorama of bad behavior.

“It’s very rare that you get a glimpse inside the evasion tactics of government agencies,” executive director Frank LoMonte told The College Fix.

LoMonte says issues of legality arise not when organizations purposely try to avoid providing information but when they provide information that has been tampered with or mislabeled.

“If a requester asks for all documents relating to Minerva, and the agency withholds documents about ‘Mnrv’ knowing that those documents are in reality responsive to the request, that’s where the violation takes place.”

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