The University of Illinois admissions scandal has cost the school about $440,000 in legal fees so far and has made it the target of a state inspector general's investigation, newly released documents show.
The bulk of the legal costs, about $392,000, went to Latham & Watkins for one month's work helping the school comply with the Admissions Review Commission, the state panel that investigated admissions irregularities after Tribune reports. That payment includes $33,000 for the Hill & Knowlton public relations firm.
"Nobody is staffed up for a tsunami, but once it hits, you go out and get the resources to be able to respond," said university spokesman Thomas Hardy, who said the fees will be covered by general university funds. "I would expect that additional bills that we receive will also be significant."
The information was released in heavily redacted documents just before 5 p.m. Friday, the deadline to respond to a Tribune request under the Freedom of Information Act. Shortly afterward, the university put out a news release headlined: "Outside legal counsel key to University cooperation with admissions commission."
The commission was convened after the Tribune found that hundreds of undergraduate applicants and dozens more in graduate programs received preferential treatment because of connections to elected officials, generous donors or university trustees.
For the first time, documents released Friday publicly confirmed the inspector general's probe when an invoice from Latham & Watkins cited legal work in relation to it.
At least one representative of the Illinois executive inspector general attended the commission hearings, but Deputy Inspector General Gilbert Jimenez said Friday he could not confirm or deny an investigation..
The inspector general's office investigates allegations of wrongful acts or omissions by state employees and officials.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times