Text of my memo about IWP surveillance of its faculty and other wrongdoing
What follows is the full text of a 4,350-word memorandum for the record concerning alleged wrongdoing at the senior management and board levels of the Institute of World Politics (IWP), and IWP harassment and surveillance of faculty who tried to blow the whistle and correct the problem. A PDF of the original memo can be retrieved here: INA Record 2013.06.14x
Memorandum for the Record
By J. Michael Waller, Vice President and Provost, Institute of World Politics
June 14, 2013
RE: Audit Committee Investigation Meeting
This morning at approximately 9:30 AM I appeared as instructed last night by John Lenczowski to speak “candidly” to former FBI Special Agent Richard Carpenter and forensic accountant Dan Ryan of INA, a private investigator/surveillance company based in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
The meeting took place in the first floor conference room of the Capital Research Center, 1513 16th Street NW, Washington DC, two doors down from IWP.
Earlier I had indicated a disinclination to meet with the investigators, working under the apparent auspices of the Audit Committee of the IWP Board of Trustees, because of what I perceived as irregularities in IWP governance by the President and Board of Trustees.
The IWP leadership has been vague and misleading about the nature of the INA investigation, never explaining to faculty or staff – not even to IWP vice presidents – the purpose, ends, or scope of the probe. The IWP President, Chairman and Audit Committee Chairman have imposed Orwellian language in describing the investigation beyond their small circle. They either denied that the investigators are “investigators,” or claimed that they were anything but “investigators.” The “investigation,” according to them, is not an investigation at all.
In e-mails to me over the past 24 hours, John Lenczowski and Owen Smith variously called the investigators “consultants” who were not doing an investigation but a “review” of certain proceedings at IWP which remain unclear to me. However, Owen Smith forwarded a private email to him from Ty McCoy, a member of the Audit Committee, in which McCoy referred to the duo as “investigators.”
For its part, INA openly describes itself as an investigative company that conducts “surveillance” on clients’ employees and runs “undercover” operations for its clients. INA also posts literature describing how to set up employees under pretexts by which they can be terminated.
So the nature of these proceedings became ever more apparent.
Since February, I have asked Trustees, including the full Executive Committee, both verbally and in writing, for the opportunity to brief them personally in an open and candid conversation in the presence of Lenczowski, and for Lenczowski and me to cross-examine one another in the presence of the Committee members, so that the Trustees could make up their own minds about problems and solutions at IWP. Those requests were either deferred indefinitely or ignored.
Consequently, I find that, after submitting a May progress report in writing to Owen Smith, John Lovewell and Abby Moffat on the Executive Committee, and receiving no queries or follow-up about either our progress or about my concerns about mismanagement and wrongdoing from either Owen Smith or John Lovewell, I am faced with an investigation by a hired detective/surveillance company.
The meeting today with investigators Ryan and Carpenter from INA proceeded as follows:
I arrived at 9:30 after construction delays, and met a cheerful pair of investigators who smiled, shook my hand, introduced themselves, and offered me a cup of water from a water cooler.
We made small talk to break the ice. I apologized for the delay, and one of them commented about how close I live to IWP, indicating that he knew where I lived. (Later, as if to cover his slipup, he asked where I live.) I agreed that with all the construction, it’s often quicker to walk from home to IWP. We made more easy comments and I indicated my willingness to be candid in our discussion. I said, though, that with all the irregularities at IWP and my suspicions about the behavior of the IWP President and certain members of the Board of Trustees, and with the needless involvement of attorney Ann Franke in this investigation, that I would speak freely only if I could record the conversation.
I asked for their consent for me to record our conversation. They indicated that they would need the consent of Ann Franke. Investigator Ryan called Franke, who did not answer. We were faced with sitting at the table, looking at each other, when Investigator Carpenter said that we could at least make small talk, and started talking about the weather.
We had a marvelous discussion about the recent irregular weather patterns in the mid-Atlantic region, and they talked about the weather in Pennsylvania, and how it isn’t too extreme. They asked me if I liked the weather in Washington, D.C. I said that I did not particularly like the weather in the area, as I am from New Hampshire and prefer northern New England weather. We all agreed that New England weather is very nice and diverse, and that diversity is good. Investigator Ryan said he was born in Tampa, where his ex-wife and daughter live, and that the weather there is predictable because one can always expect a short thunderstorm followed by alternating humidity and lack of humidity. I said that Tampa is nice and that I’d done work with USSOCOM there, but that I don’t particularly care for Tampa weather, but that Tampa has changed a lot over the years. Investigator Ryan then started ruminating on the marvels of Orlando.
One of the investigators changed the subject to the diversity of people in the Washington, DC area, and we all agreed that diversity is good. However, I suggested that perhaps there was too much diversity, and that some forms of diversity could be extreme. We all agreed that extreme forms of diversity might not be good.
I asked both gentlemen about their backgrounds, and Investigator Ryan said that he has an accounting background and that he does forensic accounting, and has worked a lot with businesses and nonprofits. He discussed some other superficial personal issues, such as the fact that he still keeps in contact with his ex-wife in Tampa because his daughter lives with her.
I noted to Investigator Ryan that he had a law enforcement background, and he said that he had served as an FBI agent for several years before going private. During the course of our discussion, he indicated that he is 52 years old. I noted to myself that, if he was telling the truth, then Carpenter was born in 1960 or 1961, and would not be the same individual as the Richard Carpenter with the DWI conviction in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, because that individual was born in 1964.
During this discussion, Ann Franke called Investigator Ryan back, but he didn’t notice because his iPhone was on vibrate.
Ryan returned Franke’s call and told her that I had appeared for the meeting, but that I wanted to record the proceedings. I could hear her voice but not her words. Ryan made no facial expressions, gestures or intonations about the nature of Franke’s response as he thanked her and said he would relay the message to me. He then hung up to me, and, again without giving anything away, said very carefully that Franke said that she would not allow me to record the proceedings, but that she expected me to cooperate fully nevertheless, and basically that I was under compulsion to do so.
I told him that that was not permissible, as the circumstances are all very mysterious and it’s only fair to record the meeting so that there would be no misinterpretation of anything.
Both investigators indicated that I could not record the proceedings, but urged me to talk to them anyway. Rather than get up and leave, as I had intended upon reaching this point, I decided to question them.
The order of what transpired might differ from the way I am relating it below, but the following narrative covers what we spoke about and what occurred.
The investigators tried to persuade me to talk, saying “there is a lot at stake,” and that much of it depends on what I say. I replied that the stakes have never been explained to me and that I was never notified of the precise nature of the inquiry. I said that I would like very much to cooperate fully, as long as I can keep a recorded record. They said that they understood, but that this was really all just routine so that they could get to the bottom of things and write a report to the Audit Committee.
I said that I wrote reports to the Audit Committee members myself, in their capacity as members of the Executive Committee, and that, with the exception of Ty McCoy, they were not interested in asking me any questions or getting to the bottom of what I had accomplished and discovered. I told them that I had told McCoy that I would gladly speak to him as long as there were no lawyers or private investigators, and he indicated that that would not presently be possible.
I told the investigators that I had a lot to say and wanted to share the information fully and candidly, but that I believe the investigation to be premised on a cover-up of wrongdoing, malfeasance and negligence by the IWP President and dominant faction of the Board of Trustees, and it was all very sad because we were always a collegial organization.
I also said that the Audit Committee seems to have a shoot-the-messenger mentality, like John Lenczowski has, and that I outlined many of my concerns in a May progress report that I had sent to the Chairman, Vice Chairman and Secretary-Treasurer, but that only the Secretary-Treasurer was interested in discussing my concerns personally.
Investigator Carpenter said that he had read my progress report and other reports to the three Trustees, and that I made some very serious “allegations.” I asked him, as a former lawman, precisely what my “allegations” were, as I had made no allegations in those reports. All I did was talk about progress, problems, and solutions, and in a separate set of memos I offered the Trustees sets of questions to ask the President. Investigator Carpenter either conceded or chose not to argue with me – I could not tell which, but his body language indicated reluctant agreement rather than avoidance.
I said that it’s really too bad that Ann Franke wouldn’t allow me to speak candidly with the two investigators, as I have a lot to say about more than a decade of mismanagement and negligence at IWP on the part of both John Lenczowski and the compliant members of the Board. I said that we had found a lot of negligent behavior and apparent wrongdoing that were in violations of government regulations and laws.
Investigator Carpenter said that much is “at stake” and dependent on my cooperation. I told him again that I wanted to cooperate, and that they should press Ann Franke to allow me to record the meeting so that I could comply. He said he couldn’t do that. I asked him about what’s “at stake” that is so urgent, and he said it concerned federal funding for IWP, including Title IV.
(This is noteworthy, because I was the one who alerted the Executive Committee of the Title IV violations in the first place, and briefed Frank Ryan by phone, with Elaine Pinder, our financial director, who explained the details. This was my last voice contact with Frank Ryan before he retained the private investigators to investigate me. Later, in May, I described to the Executive Committee in writing the dangers we faced concerning non-compliance with Title IV, and proposed solutions. Nobody on the Executive Committee except for Abby Moffat responded to my warnings.)
Again I stated to the investigators that we on the staff were working to bring IWP back into compliance with Title IV requirements, and that we had warned both the President and Trustees that we were running out of time.
I asked them both about the nature of the investigation beyond Title IV, as some Trustees had indicated that the focus would be on the events of February 22, when the board appointed me Vice President and Provost. Notably, neither investigator had brought this up, even when I asked them to explain to me the premise of the investigation.
One of the investigators corrected me and said that this was not an “investigation” but a “review.”
I asked why it takes a forensic accountant and ex-FBI agent to conduct a “review,” when both are professional investigators. I said that the circumstances of the investigation are suspicious because of certain other things that have been happening recently, and that something is fishy.
Investigator Carpenter interjected that INA is a “professional” company and isn’t going to do anything “illegal.” (That was an odd comment, as I hadn’t accused them of doing anything illegal.) I told him that I work with the FBI and other law enforcement quite a bit, and that I’m sure that they aren’t doing anything illegal, but they don’t necessarily know if the people who hired them are doing something illegal or are trying to cover up. Carpenter again said that INA isn’t going to risk its good name by doing anything “illegal,” at which point Investigator Ryan chimed in with the same opinion.
What follows is a reconstruction of the dialogue:
Waller: “Look, you guys are pros and you’re just doing what your client wants. But I don’t trust the motives of your client, so I want to record our conversation.”
Carpenter: “We’re not recording it.”
Waller: “I’m not saying you guys are doing anything illegal. But who knows who else is? Did you guys know the Capital Research Center before you came here?”
Waller: “OK, well, John Lenczowski did, and he’s been doing some things that are very wrong, so one never knows what a third party might have done in this room prior to this meeting. I have to assume someone is recording it.”
Carpenter/Ryan: “Well, we’re not recording it.”
Waller: “I believe you. But I don’t believe whoever your client is. Who’s paying for this investigation?”
Carpenter/Ryan: “I don’t know.”
Waller: “You don’t know who your client is?”
Carpenter/Ryan: “We’re working for the Audit Committee for the Board of Trustees.”
Waller: “The Audit Committee doesn’t write its own checks. Who, precisely, is your client?”
Carpenter/Ryan (probably Ryan): “Counsel.”
Waller: “’Counsel’ is your client? A lawyer is acting as a cutout? Who’s the client?”
Waller: “Who is paying for this investigation?”
Carpenter: “I don’t know.”
Ryan (reaches his hand across the table toward Carpenter): “No, IWP is paying.”
Waller: “Really? I asked our CFO Elaine Pinder, and she says she doesn’t know who is paying.”
Ryan: “We haven’t sent the bill yet.”
Waller: “Really? Your firm works on retainer. Somebody paid the retainer. Who paid the retainer?”
Ryan (breaking eye contact to look down at his hands): “I’m not at liberty to say.”
I explained to the investigators that they had to understand where I was coming from, that as professionals they could see why I had to record the conversation, especially if they couldn’t or weren’t allowed to say who is paying for the investigation. I said something like, “Now you can see what I’m up against – the board brings me in to fix problems, I find more problems than expected and that both the President and Board are negligent, I report the problems to the Executive Committee, and then they don’t want to ask questions and instead get lawyers and forensic accountants and ex-FBI agents involved. Something is wrong.”
At one point, Investigator Carpenter started to praise me for my accomplishments and my fine professional record, and that it’s good that someone like me is teaching the things that I teach – the sort of line that a “good cop” tells a detainee whom he’s trying to butter up. I replied that it’s hard to find an institution that will allow someone like me to teach such things, and one of the reasons why IWP is so valuable. He indicated his agreement, and said something to the effect that I’m in an important position and the school has a lot at stake in what I say.
I told him that my position won’t last long, since the Vice President/Provost position expires on June 30, and that I heard that John Lenczowski wants to put an item on the July 1 board agenda a resolution to remove me completely from the school. I said that this investigation looks like a pretext for removing me, blaming me for Lenczowski’s and the Board’s negligence, and destroying my means of making a living.
Carpenter said that that wasn’t the case at all, that there’s no Board agenda item calling for my removal as professor. (How he knew about what is on the draft Board agenda, he didn’t explain and I didn’t ask.) I told him that the way things historically have worked at IWP is that, if a senior person calls out John Lenczowski on his own mismanagement or wrongoing, he is fired, blamed and defamed. This is a documentable pattern.
Earlier in the discussion, Carpenter said that he and Ryan were there just to ask questions and take down what I said, clearly and honestly, in a neutral fashion, and pass it on to the Audit Committee. I said that that was all well and good, but that if the discussion wasn’t recorded, how could anybody be sure about what was really said, and that full context was needed because lawyers and those with an agenda would twist context and distort what was said.
They assured me that that was not the case, and I asked them how they could be sure if they were no longer in control of the information.
Either Carpenter or Ryan assured me twice that this was not a “witch hunt.”
This is a significant point because of what transpired when I concluded our discussion. One of the investigators said that he would try to reschedule an interview after consulting with Ann Franke. I told him that I would make myself at their disposal, but that I would not change my ground rule on recording the proceedings.
At that point, Investigator Ryan said that he would note for the record that I “declined to cooperate.”
This was just the sort of distortion I was worried about, so I corrected him. Here’s a reconstruction of what I said: “No. Let the record show that I agreed to cooperate, fully and candidly, but that Ann Franke would not permit the circumstances for me to do so. I will cooperate fully and candidly once IWP counsel provides the circumstances to do so.”
I repeated that message and told Ryan to put that down as my truthful response. I doubt that he did.
At about that point, I repeated my regrets that Ann Franke’s circumstances would not allow me to speak candidly and completely, as I had “a lot to say” and “would love to spill my guts” about the years of mismanagement and waste at IWP. I added that I would like to talk about how I believe IWP may be in violation of District and Federal laws, and that, as a recent example, I had warned John Lenczowski at least twice, in writing, that his proposed handling of a certain student-related issue would be in violation of Federal law, yet he insisted on doing it anyway.
One of the investigators asked which law might be violated, but neither Carpenter nor Ryan tried to get me to stay and provide details. This lack of interest struck me as odd for a pair of veteran investigators whose job was to uncover lawbreaking inside a company.
Apparently they had no other meetings scheduled for today, as they were completely flexible about keeping the rest of the day open, expressing hope that Ann Franke would modify her position on recording or that I would modify mine. They also indicated that they would make the three-hour drive from Harrisburg to come down here again to question me.
I shook hands with them, said I hoped we could meet again, and left.
Immediately after the meeting, I wrote an email to Trustees Owen Smith, John Lenczowski, John Lovewell, Ty McCoy, Abby Moffat, Peter Schaumber, Aldona Wos and Paul Behrends – the member of the Executive Committee and Audit Committee, plus the practicing attorney on the board, and two board members who had expressed interest. The email notified them of what had transpired. The full text follows:
Subject: Ann Franke denied me the right to speak candidly
Owen and Colleagues – I complied with John Lenczowski’s order to appear before the former FBI agent and the forensic accountant doing the investigation for the Audit Committee. In the meeting, I told them that I would be glad to speak with them candidly about mismanagement issues at IWP, but that given the irregular circumstances in which the investigation was being held, I would speak freely only if I could record the proceedings.
Investigator Ryan called Ann Franke for guidance, and she forbade the meeting to be recorded. She passed me a message through Investigator Ryan to the effect that I would be compelled to speak nevertheless.
Of course, subjecting myself to being misinterpreted under the circumstances would be unacceptable, so I asked the investigators to put down for the record that I would gladly cooperate if I could record the conversation.
They indicated that they would put down for the record that I declined to speak. Such an assertion would be false. I agreed to speak but Ann Franke sought to compel me while denying me the right to keep a verbatim record.
Something is very wrong with the premises an[d] circumstances behind this investigation.
Vice President and Provost
The Institute of World Politics
Frank Ryan wrote back a pro forma reply at 10:29: “Mike, Thank you for your comments. I will be happy to look into your concerns. Best wishes, Frank.”
This is significant because it proves that Audit Committee Chairman Frank Ryan knew immediately about the results of the questioning session, acknowledged them, knew of my willingness to speak candidly if only Ann Franke would allow a recording, and did not instruct Ann Franke to reverse her position and permit me to speak freely. The two investigators were scheduled to be in Washington DC all day long, and indicated that they were prepared to meet with me again any time for the rest of the day.
Therefore, I am left to conclude that Frank Ryan does not want an objective and rapid collection of information, but sought the meeting as a setup and, rather than allow me to provide the recorded facts, chose to wait and review his options.
The only other Trustees to respond to my note were Abby Moffat, who expressed indignation at the investigators’ behavior and wondered aloud what IWP’s donors would think; and Paul Behrends, who wrote to Frank Ryan expressing distress about the way the situation was deteriorating at IWP and showing sympathy for my position.
Frank Ryan wrote back, without mentioning me by name, that some of the participants have been counterproductive. He urged calm. Again, Ryan’s second response shows that he was engaged with this matter the entire time and was in a position to instruct Ann Franke to instruct the investigators to allow me to “spill my guts” (my words) in a recorded fashion.
As of the time of this writing, at 11:10 PM, more than 12 hours after the fact, nobody from IWP, including Ann Franke, got back to me to reschedule, or to discuss ground rules to enable a candid discussion. I never received a reply from Owen Smith, John Lovewell, John Lenczowski, Ty McCoy, or Ann Franke.
- If this is an independent review, why is an attorney dictating the ground rules?
- Why did Ann Franke refuse to permit a recording of the interview for the purposes of maintaining an accurate record?
- If it’s all so urgent and the stakes are so high, why not make it easy for me to speak freely and candidly, on the record?
- Why the fear of transparency and accuracy?
- Why don’t the investigators know the identity of the client?
- Why do the investigators refuse to say who paid the retainer?
- What to make of the coincidences in a flurry of activity?
o A board meeting delayed after issuance of my progress report, identification of problems and solutions, and series of questions for the Trustees to ask John Lenczowski.
o Near-total disinterest from the Chairman, Vice Chairman, chair of the Audit Committee, and others in talking to me about my findings and concerns.
o Retaining a private investigator to run a secretive probe.
o Lack of transparency with senior staff and faculty about the nature of the probe.
o The Chairman and President telling me and others that the investigation is not an “investigation,” but a “review,” while among themselves they call it an “investigation.”
o Conflicting reasons from Trustees about the nature and purpose of the “review.”
o JL’s sudden, frantic, ill-conceived advertising push, circumventing all staff with the experience and authority to do marketing, and working with junior hourly student-staffers, while blaming those he excluded for not recruiting.
o A push to get the new website up and running before the postponed board meeting.
o Secretiveness about the job description of a new Academic Dean.
o Secretiveness about the recruitment of a new Executive Vice President, and deliberate exclusion of senior faculty and staff from the selection and interview process.
o Avoidance of recruiting a Director of Development.
o Secretiveness about bringing GEN Mike Hayden aboard IWP.
o Avoidance – to the point of giving offense – of IWP’s largest and most generous benefactor who offered $5 million if IWP would get its act together.
o A sudden discovery that we don’t have a security system and that I am remiss in not installing one; then getting Jason and others involved in the security system while I am meeting with the investigators.
o A push to get in compliance with Title IV before the board meeting, using private investigators, yet never asking me what else needs to be done or enlisting the assistance that the staff and I had offered.
END OF MEMORANDUM