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Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Florida Rep. Randy Fine actually suggested UCF should be shut down over improper spending

Posted By on Wed, Feb 13, 2019 at 2:24 PM

Florida Rep. Randy Fine actually suggested Wednesday afternoon that the University of Central Florida should be shut down for five to 10 years over the school's misuse of at least $38 million to construct a campus building.

Florida Politics reports the Brevard County Republican make the comments at a hearing of the House Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee. The subcommittee is looking into UCF's spending amid an ethics probe into the college's improper use of state funds to build the 137,000-square-foot Trevor Colbourn Hall.

The move by UCF officials violated state policy, which restricted the money to instruction, research, libraries, student services or maintenance. An investigation by the House Integrity and Ethics committee into UCF's spending found the "misdirection" of almost $85 million in leftover funds between 2013 and 2018, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

Citing "corporate governance," Fine says he's "working on a five or 10-year shutdown of the university," according to Florida Politics.

"If this was a private business I owned, I’d shut it down," Fine reportedly told the subcommittee. "It is my opinion … that the conduct [regarding] that building was inexcusable."

Fine later told Orlando Weekly his comments were hyperbolic because he wanted to raise awareness of the serious nature of the investigation.

"I threw out some hyperbole today, which was intended to send a message to UCF about the level of dissatisfaction we have around the lack of changes in corporate governance and self-examination about how it happened," Fine says. "I wanted to get their attention."

When asked whether the more than 68,000 students enrolled at UCF should be worried over a potential shutdown, the Republican lawmaker says UCF alumni and students should question their administration.

"I would be angry," Fine says. "I would ask, 'Why did you do this? Why would you put us in this position to be audited and investigated?' I have no issues with UCF as an institution. My issues are with those who oversee and manage this institution, and who failed in their fiduciary duties."

Some Orlando lawmakers, notably Democratic Reps. Anna Eskamani and Carlos Guillermo Smith, are already speaking out against Fine's comments on Twitter.

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