DeKalb Co. (ECWd) -
We previously printed a story regarding Northern Illinois University’s Interim CFO Nancy Suttenfield’s alleged attempt to save the Illinois taxpayers’ monies by refusing to accept a final written report generated by an illegitimate consulting/assessment contract—but only after she had already spent $468,050 of state money on this contract. But not only does Suttenfield watch taxpayers’ pennies, she also apparently carefully watches pennies when it involves her own wallet, too.
Suttenfield used NIU resources to advertise her private consulting services!
Suttenfield advertised her personal financial services on emails that were sent through the NIU server on her NIU email address. Instead of closing her emails with “Nancy Dezort Suttenfield, Interim Chief Financial Officer, Northern Illinois University”, she chose to conclude with “Nancy D. Suttenfield, Financial Advisor, Higher Education Services, Verity Asset Management/Verity Investments, Inc., Durham NC”. Obviously a private employment unrelated to her so-titled “employee” status at NIU, but perhaps related to the consulting contract under which NIU actually hired her, a contract which does not have a provision for allowing personal advertisements.
This advertisement was included on her NIU emails sent both internally and externally. Internally, not only did Suttenfield include this sign-off on emails to at least several of her direct reports (Click here to see), but also to peers and other staff in outside departments (ranging from secretaries to Vice Presidents), two members of the legal department plus the University Ethics Officer, and most notably, on her emails to the President of NIU, Dr. Douglas Baker.
Her staff and some peers/other staff may have been reluctant to mention the impropriety due to legitimate fears of retaliation, but the ethics officer and the President should have been aware of this violation, should have no fear of retribution, and should have put an immediate halt to her personal services advertising. Apparently, neither did so.
Suttenfield also included this advertisement on emails sent to external parties. Both examples shown are emails to top financial administrators at other educational institutions; so Suttenfield was able to use NIU resources to advertise her financial services to her target market (Click here to see those).
Again, the actions, or lack thereof, of NIU’s senior administration raise questions. Why was this personal advertisement on NIU resources allowed to continue? Why was this not reported by the other Vice Presidents, lawyers, or the President himself?
The NIU Board of Trustees has a fiduciary responsibility to both NIU and the State of Illinois. When will the Board of Trustees own up to their responsibility and put an end to the Baker administration’s inappropriate actions?
A formal complaint to the Auditor General may be in order but as we know, even that office has been compromised due to a criminal investigation on the Auditor himself, Frank Mautino.
The question now, what recourse do We The People have when our public servants disregard the rule of law and act unethically in the performance of their job?
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