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Weinberg Questions Response To Barchi Deals

Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (Bergen) today participates in an AARP telephone town hall with seniors from across New Jersey to discuss their plan for real property tax relief for New Jersey residents.   The Senate Democrats’ proposal would reduce by 10 percent the property tax burden of New Jerseyans earning less than $250,000 a year.  Renters would receive $200 a year after full phase in of the plan.  Under the plan, a family earning the state's median income of $69,811 with property taxes at the state average of $7,758.20 would save $775.82 under the Senate proposal. Under the governor's proposed income tax scheme, they would save just $97.78; meanwhile a millionaire would get a $7,265.75 tax break and those earning $3 million would save $25,200 a year.

TRENTON – Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg sent the below letter to the Rutgers Board of Governors on Tuesday questioning the “inadequate explanations” of President Robert Barchi’s lucrative outside deals with private companies doing business with the university and the “seemingly-apathetic attitude” towards the inherent conflict of interest:

To: The Rutgers University Board of Governors:

In the wake of the disclosure of President Robert Barchi’s lucrative outside positions with two companies that have contracts with Rutgers University the questions and concerns about the two-way financial arrangement have multiplied. The explanations and the seemingly-apathetic attitude by many in positions of authority have been both inadequate and troubling. What is an obvious conflict of interest to most has been excused and accepted far too casually by the Rutgers Board of Governors and by Governor Christie. And the belated memo to top Rutgers officials from Mr. Barchi appears to be more of an exercise in damage control that does little to remove the conflict of interest.

I believe, however, that there are many unanswered questions that the Board should be concerned about. After all, Mr. Barchi earned more than $300,000 last year alone from VWR International and Covance Inc and holds an additional $2.5 million in Covance stock. This is on top of the Rutgers salary of $747,000 with bonuses, as well as a house and a car.

The questions that should have been asked by the Board and the concerns that should be taken into consideration include:

  • Did the Board take into consideration the inherent conflict of interest of having the President receive such lucrative pay from two companies that are doing millions of dollars of business with the University?
  • Was the Board aware of the fact that university presidents that serve on outside boards are rarely compensated so generously?
  • Does the Board know if other university presidents serve on boards of companies that do business with their schools?
  • Does Mr. Barchi have any prescribed responsibilities to these two outside firms? If so, does the Board know what they are?
  • Despite Mr. Barchi’s recent claim that he will perform his outside work on his own time he will be paid a salary that will demand more than a few part-time hours –  how will he divide his time with the outside boards at a time when the school’s reorganization will require the President’s full attention?
  • What steps will the University take to prevent school employees from treating Mr. Barchi’s outside employers with favoritism?
  • What steps is the Board taking to prevent conflicts with the medical school that will now be part of the University and the pharmaceutical research and lab supply work of the outside firms?
  • How will the Board be able to discern when the decisions made by President Barchi are in the best interests of his other employers or the University and its students?

I believe that the Board should not have allowed Mr. Barchi to engage in these outside jobs when he was hired because they present an obvious conflict of interest and I continue to believe that he should resign from the boards. With the succession of controversies that have erupted at Rutgers during Mr. Barchi’s new tenure and the important challenge of guiding Rutgers to the next level as a world-class university, neither the school nor its President can afford any ethical shortfalls. A full accounting of the circumstances in this case is important.

Loretta Weinberg

Senator, District 37