Tax Law

Senator Says Mean Law School Is Ignoring Him

Last month, we reported on the mounting evidence that NYU, both the university as a whole and the law school specifically, employed a number of charitable organizations to provide faculty and staff with what can be safely called sweetheart deals on real estate and loans.

The investigation is a little unfortunate, given that it arises from a political witch hunt directed by Senator Chuck Grassley against Treasury Secretary Jack Lew. But a Senate investigation is a Senate investigation and NYU needs to suck it up and comply.

But, according to Grassley, NYU has ever so politely given him the finger…

Ariel Kaminer of The New York Times reports:

Four months after Senator Charles E. Grassley began an inquiry into New York University’s executive compensation practices, it still has not provided crucial information he requested, he said on Wednesday.

Some information the university provided was already public, like government filings or published university policies, and some of it was made available only under highly restricted conditions, Mr. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, said in an interview. “We’re getting stonewalled,” he said. “We’re getting nowhere. We were promised cooperation and we’re not getting it.”

“Stonewalled” is a clever choice of words for discussing a school nestled in the heart of Greenwich Village, just blocks from the old Stonewall. But since this is Chuck Grassley of “Assume Deer Dead” fame, it’s likely unintentional.

William A. Brewer III, an N.Y.U. trustee who is helping facilitate the university’s response, said that, to the contrary, the university had gladly complied with the inquiry and that “at a high level, all categories of information have been provided.”

OK. Bill Brewer is involved. Was it irritating to litigate against Bickel & Brewer? Absolutely. Is Bill Brewer exactly who you’d want on your side if you were planning to play hardball with a grandstanding politician? Absolutely. Hard-nosed and aggressive. Good call NYU. NYU has also brought on J. Steven Hart of Williams & Jensen.

Mr. Brewer, who is a lawyer, said to provide information about individual loans beyond what is legally required, “and to single out our faculty and our administration and staff with Senator Grassley’s staff having admitted that they’re not asking for that information from any other university, is not only a serious step for us to take regarding our obligations to our staff but it frankly holds those individuals out in a public way that is neither required nor called for.”

Your move, Senator.

He said his inquiry was motivated not by partisanship but by the university’s tax status, noting that he had previously looked into spending at Harvard and Yale.

“They’re a nonprofit organization, they ought to act like a nonprofit organization,” he said. “They’ve got to justify their tax exemption.”

Hmm. Funny, I remember Senator Grassley singing a very different tune about sham organizations getting tax exempt status as recently as last month.

N.Y.U. Impeding Compensation Inquiry, Senator Says [NY Times]
Senator Says NYU Uncooperative in Inquiry on Pay and Loans [The Chronicle of Philanthropy]
NYU Number One Fan Chuck Grassley Wants Names, Dammit [NYU Local]

Earlier: NYU Law’s Secret Slush Funds

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