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Walker's Cadillac Escalade bought with college donations

Walker's Cadillac Escalade bought with college donations

By Matt Grant. CREATED Jan 30, 2012

FORT MYERS - Fired Edison State College president Dr. Ken Walker had a sweet ride paid for with donations to the college, a Fox 4 investigation has learned.

"I can't believe that's even allowed," one student said after seeing Walker's 2009 Cadillac Escalade. "It's criminal."

The VIP sticker is still attached to Walker's Escalade, a luxury car tucked away with other official campus vehicles.

Walker was forced to return his ride after he was fired last week. It's a pricey perk that's still not paid off.

In 2009, Edison paid more than $60,441 to buy Walker the Escalade. Today, they still owe $28,205.

But Fox 4 discovered the Cadillac was paid for by the Edison State College Foundation, which raises money for things like scholarships and financial aid.

"That was under his directive," said college spokesperson Teresa Morgenstern. "To get him a vehicle."

The pricey vehicle was paid for with donations by donors who didn't specify where their money should go by checking off a box marked "area of greatest need." The foundation's Web site says that money goes towards the college's "most pressing needs."

"It was one of the perks as part of his employment contract," said college spokesperson Teresa Morgenstern. "That was approved by the board of trustees at that time."

But former Edison trustee Dr. David Klein, whose family donated $250,000 to the college, says he doesn't remember approving an Escalade for Walker's personal use.

"I don't remember ever saying, 'We're going to take $60,000 or whatever out of the foundation to buy this man a car,'" said Klein. "It's unthinkable that I would ever knowingly do it."

The college insists this was a board decision. And with the car sitting empty after Walker returned it last week, they're now looking to sell it.

"Looking back was this a wise purchase?," asked Fox 4 reporter Matt Grant.

"In hindsight you can always be a Monday morning quarterback," said Morgenstern. "But it was a decision that was made at the time. We honored that decision."

Matt Grant
mgrant@fox4now.com