Scrutiny necessary in furniture matter

When news broke about Iranscam, President Reagan later vowed to the public that investigations would not stop until it was revealed exactly who was responsible and what methods were used to funnel funds.

The same attitude should be taken when it comes to investigations involving overspending on former NIU president Clyde Wingfield’s house.

A “new matter,” which the Attorney General’s Office will not reveal, has held up the release of a complete report on the attorney general’s investigation of last year’s house-spending ordeal. The attorney general is looking into possible violations of the state Purchasing Act and Open Meetings Act when the approximate $20,000 expenditures were made.

While it might be disheartening for the university to learn that there could be yet more possible violations, it is relieving to know the state is taking the time to thoroughly examine all aspects of actions taken last year.

State officials, university administrators and the Board of Regents all have said they want to put the ordeal behind them. Such statements are true in the respect that emphasis should be put on current improvements to education. But the officials also must realize the importance of examining past mistakes.

A scrutinizing look at what occurred last year not only could prevent the same mistakes from happening at NIU again, but it has the potential to deter similar situations from sprouting at institutions throughout the state.

So far, the matter has been taken seriously by the Illinois Legislature and the Attorney General’s Office. Neighboring administrators can look upon the situation and say, “Let’s never let this happen here.” But even after all measures have been taken to clear up the new “matter” and the report is revealed to the public, the state’s job is not over.

If it is found that the law was indeed broken, then the report would be a perfect first step for determining the second stream of action—the punishment to whomever is the guilty party, or parties. In this case, scolding is not enough. It is the responsibility of the state’s attorney to prosecute.

If it is found that the “intent” of the law is in question, as is being speculated by one state senator, sanctions should be treated accordingly and administered.

Whether it’s the nation or NIU, if public funds are at stake, when procedure is bypassed or when laws are broken, a slap on the wrist is not enough. The offenders must be punished.