NIU legal bills continue as probe appears at end
An investigation into Northern Illinois University (NIU) might have ended, but the legal bills haven’t, according to a public advocacy group.
As of the end of January, the university was still paying Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C., stemming from an executive inspector general (EIG) probe into the institution and its president, Douglas Baker.
The Edgar County Watchdogs reported that the university paid upwards of $24,000 in its latest invoice, which covered a period from Sept. 9, 2016, to Jan. 31, 2017. While information on what the EIG investigation covered is not publicly available, the group speculates that it involved the university’s procurement processes, employment practices and travel expenses, including Baker’s near-weekly commute between Washington state and NIU.
To date, the investigation has been ongoing for 18 months, but the latest invoice indicates that it might be coming to a close. One of the last items billed on the invoice reads, “Assess communication from D. Baker on outstanding Board issues in follow-up to closeout of EIG investigations.” The billable items listed on the invoice drop from a high of 22 in October to three in January.
Nevertheless, the Watchdogs point out that “[the] invoices indicate this billing for legal services is not over yet, and has been proceeding on a regular basis.”