Edison donations spent in secret
Florida law prevents you from finding out how donations are spent.Photo: Video by fox4now.com
FORT MYERS - Edison State College donation dollars are being spent in secret.
When Dr. Ken Walker was still president he had a sweet ride, driving around in a 2009 Cadillac Escalade - paid for with college donations.
The Edison State College Foundation bought Walker the $60,441 Escalade two years ago. They still owe nearly $28,205 on it.
The money was taken from unspecified donations from people who checked off a box marked "area of greatest need."
"That's criminal," one student told us.
The Edison Foundation is a private, non-profit 501(c)(3) that raises money for the college for things like scholarships and financial aid.
We wanted to know what else they are buying with donor dollars. Not who is donating but where the money is going.
The college says that information is secret.
"The Florida legislature has determined that this information is confidential," said Edison spokesperson Teresa Morgenstern. "We cannot lawfully release it."
"So even if you wanted to release it you're saying you couldn't?," asked Fox 4 reporter Matt Grant.
"We cannot," said Morgenstern.
The college cites a Florida Statute which they say applies to all state colleges. In reference to outside organizations, it says in part: "All records of the organization...any information related to the expenditure of funds shall be confidential."
Florida Gulf Coast University confirms they also would not release how donor dollars are spent.
"Do you think donors should know, or have a right to know, where their money is being spent?," asked Fox 4 reporter Matt Grant.
"Absolutely," said former Edison VP Steve Atkins, who was fired last year after speaking out.
Atkins says he would like to see how the donations are spent in the interest of transparency.
"Is there any reason to believe that money from the foundation is being spent inappropriately?," asked Grant.
"Um I probably shouldn't comment on that," said Atkins. "In time the books will open and people will know."
But it looks like we may never know. Something that bothers board member Pamela Seay.
"It is important that we do know where the money is being spent," said Seay. "I would guess that most of the money provided to the foundation does in fact go to the college and does for go for educational resources. But can I guarantee that? No I cannot."
The college foundation is subject to an annual audit. Fox 4 has requested the college's most recent one.