Orange DA calls for outside review of UNC fundraiser's expenses

Posted November 21, 2012 4:55 p.m. EST
Updated November 21, 2012 7:23 p.m. EST

— Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall said Wednesday he would like an outside, independent agency to investigate questionable expenses by a former fundraiser at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Matt Kupec resigned in September as vice chancellor for advancement amid an internal review of his travel. He also reimbursed the school for more than $16,000 in personal expenses found during an audit of his travel and spending.

UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp said at the time that some of Kupec's fundraising trips appeared "personally driven" and noted that Tami Hansbrough, the mother of former UNC All-America basketball player Tyler Hansbrough, accompanied him on many of the trips.

Tami Hansbrough resigned as a major gifts officer at UNC two days after Kupec stepped down. She released a statement on Oct. 23 saying she “did nothing wrong.” Sources have told WRAL News that the pair are dating.

“I really wish they would let an outside more independent agency look at these issues,” Woodall said. “I hope they will, and we're going to give them time to do that.”

Burley Mitchell, a former North Carolina Supreme Court chief justice and member of the UNC System Board of Governors, says he backs Woodall.

“It should be obvious, if we're going to get this behind us, that the public must have confidence that everything will come out and it's looked at by people who are not part of UNC-Chapel Hill,” Mitchell said.

An internal audit confirmed that Kupec took unauthorized personal trips as a university foundation fundraiser. He resigned, apologized and paid the money back, but Woodall wants more detail on whether state property and money were misused.

In a statement, UNC spokeswoman Karen Moon said, “No state funds were used to pay for Kupec's unallowable expenses. The AHEC aircraft discussed in the audit are not state property, but are owned by Medical Air, Inc., a not-for-profit organization and the funds that paid for the flights were from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Foundation, Inc. The boards of these organizations are aware of the audit report."

Still, Woodall has questions. “There needs to be transparency,” he said.

If UNC does not call for an outside investigation, Woodall, the State Bureau of Investigation or state auditor could do it.