State Senator Speaks Out About ASU Audit Release

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By Catalina Trivino

A state senator sends a powerful message to Governor Robert Bentley about the governor's release of an audit that shows misuse of money at Alabama State University. The audit and the way it was released has some saying they demand respect from the Governor.

State Senator, Quinton Ross, is asking people to focus on the positive things the university has done. But if the audit is right, legal analysts tell us there could be legal action.

"I say Governor, let our people go... let ASU go!" It's a message state Senator, Quinton Ross, of Montgomery gave during ASU's Bridge Builder's breakfast.

Ross says he's upset because the govenor's office released details of the audit  before giving the school's board of directors and administrators a chance to review it.

"I just ask for fundemental fairness from the Governor and not this heavy handedness he's imposing," Said Ross.

The audit shows board members Elton Dean and Marvin Wiggins misused money by making payments to family and friends through contracts. If that's true, legal analyst, James Anderson says consequences are on the horizon.

"I've looked over the preliminary report. It says it appears that certain members of the board and certain members of their family have benefitted. Well, unless they're made one of these exceptions in the ethics law, there could be an ethics violation," Said Anderson.

And the Governor's office is firing back. Spokesperson, Jennifer Ardis says, "Governor Bentley's sole interest is doing what is best for the University, for its students, its faculty, and its alumni. He does not want anything to hinder the ability of Alabama State University to serve its students, our community, and our state. We owe it to the students and faculty to make appropriate corrections and place the University on a successful path forward."

And it's a path that also includes the search for ASU's new president. We asked Ross if he'd consider the position.

"I've been an SGA president, I am an educator... God only holds the future," Said Ross.

Ross says no one has approached him about becoming the next president. As far as the accusations about Dean and Wiggins, he says they are innocent until proven guilty.

We spoke with the Alabama Attorney General's office today to see if its moving ahead with any possible criminal charges based on the audit's finding, but the AG's office had no comment.

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Larry said on Thursday, Oct 17 at 8:49 AM

We need to audit every state school and university. I believe that there is nepotism and waste in every university in the state. Hiring Jo Bonner at the University of Alabama is just one example of both nepotism and waste. When universities raise tuition every year, there is a problem. We need oversight for every state university.

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