Wednesday, January 16

Who Knew? Part 2: The Hiring of Cynthia Baldwin

Second Mile donations indicated that some BOT members may have been tipped to the Sandusky investigation in 2009.  Did the Sandusky investigation also lead to the hiring of Baldwin?

Ray Blehar

In Who Knew? (Part 1), US Steel (John Surma), Merck (Kenneth Frazier), and Ira Lubert all appeared to begin distancing themselves from The Second Mile around 2009.  Surma's and Frazier's companies dropped their donations to the charity considerably from 2008 to 2009 and Lubert stopped letting the charity use his Greenhills facility to hold their Reading, PA summer camps in 2009 as well.  Lubert also stepped away from TSM's Southeast Region Board of Directors that year.

In June 2009, the PA Office of Attorney General learned of the 1998 Sandusky investigation pertaining to an incident on the Penn State campus.  With the investigation possibly taking a turn in Penn State's direction, did then Governor Ed Rendell  pass that information along to his friend and BOT member, Ira Lubert?  And did Lubert pass that information on to Surma, Frazier, and other trustees?

The Hiring of Cynthia Baldwin

In late summer of 2009, some of the Business and Industry Trustees approached then PSU President Graham Spanier, suggesting that PSU hire its own in-house counsel.   At the time, the General Counsel was Wendell Courtney of the firm, McQuaide-Blasko.  Courtney had an office in Old Main and was given the same treatment as any other Vice-President at PSU.  He was intimately involved in the decision-making processes at Old Main.  McQuaide-Blasko had provided PSU's legal services for over 50 years.

Cynthia Baldwin – former Penn State
 Vice President and General Counsel

Rather than deciding immediately, Dr. Spanier and the BOT hired a consulting firm to conduct a study to determine if an in-house counsel would better serve PSU.  Two weeks later, the firm came back and recommended that an in-house counsel would be a better alternative.  The decision was set.  PSU would get their own in-house counsel and replace McQuaide/Blasko.

At the time the decision was being debated, Cynthia Baldwin was attending the meetings as an emeritus trustee.  Shortly after the decision, Baldwin offered her name to be the in-house counsel.

Dr. Spanier believed that Baldwin would be a good fit for the job, considering that she was the President of the PSU BOT from 2004 to 2007 and was a former Justice on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court (appointed by Gov. Rendell).  

Baldwin's work history also included being the prosecuting attorney-in-charge in the OAG at the Bureau of Consumer Protection under LeRoy S. Zimmerman.  Zimmerman resigned from his chairman position at the Hershey Trust amid a scandal in which funds for the children were allegedly used to build a golf course.

Baldwin's hire was approved by the BOT and she began work as PSU General Counsel in February 2010.   The hiring announcement stated that Baldwin would serve in a transition role until a national search would be conducted to find a permanent in-house counsel.

Baldwin's Role As the General Counsel

The Freeh Report relied heavily on the statements and information from Cynthia Baldwin in several chapters of the report.  She was referenced at least 13 times in explaining the internal controls of the university.  Ironically, the PSU Office of General Counsel's (OGC)  policy AD49 reveals the counsel has no role in the oversight of policy or internal controls at the University.  The Freeh Report at 31 indicated a "Key Finding" that the University had no centralized office for oversight and compliance with laws and policies, but did not conclude that oversight and compliance should be the charge of the PSU OGC. It is notable that policy AD49 was revised substantially in July 2010, under Baldwin's watch.  Previous versions could not be obtained, however, the revised policy does state the the OGC handles all legal matters and subpoenas for the University.

Subpoeanas Not Served and/or Unanswered

According to Dr. Spanier, he never saw a single subpoena during his tenure as President of PSU.  In fact, Spanier stated that he believed he was voluntarily testifying before the grand jury.  Spanier also stated that he was surprised when Counselor Baldwin turned over a thumb drive containing all of his e-mail from 2004 to 2011 to the supervising judge. Spanier stated he relied heavily on Baldwin's advice and counsel throughout the investigation.

Grand Jury Subpoena 1179 was issued in Decenber 2010 and ordered PSU turn over all communications related to the Sandusky incidents on campus.  According to the Conspiracy of Nonsense grand jury presentment, the PSU IT staff were never provided with the subpoena nor told to seek any information pertaining to the subpoena.  If that is the case, how did Baldwin end up with a thumb drive full of e-mails?  Surely, she did not obtain them herself.

Governor Corbett implied the PSU could be charged with obstruction of justice for its failure to turn over the e-mails obtained by Inspector Clouseau's, er, Freeh's investigators.

Detectives and police investigators also testified that PSU was not quick to respond to the Subpoenas for the Office of Physical Plant Employees (Grand Jury Subpoeana 191 issued May 11, 2011) and the Athletic Department Football Support Staff (Grand Jury Subpoenas 183 and 185, May 10, 2011).

Baldwin's grand jury testimony in the November 2012 presentment states she dutifully presented all subpoenas to Spanier.  The presentment does not indicate that Spanier gave Baldwin any direction in handling the subpoenas and AD49 states the OGC "has the prerogative to send them to other parties after receipt."

The Question:  Was Baldwin Incompetent or Was She Purposely Undermining PSU Officials?

Informal polling of attorneys provided mixed reviews of Baldwin. One attorney called her "brilliant," while the majority were at the opposite end of the spectrum.

Were her actions in not answering or directing the subpoenas properly due to her incompetence or was she brought into PSU by the Business and Industry Trustees to obstruct the investigation and undermine PSU officials?  Baldwin's dual representation of PSU and of Tim Curley and Gary Schultz seem to be in favor of the latter.

It is clear from her background that Baldwin knows the inner workings of the BOT and that there may have been much more at stake in this scandal than the public knows.

Freeh's examination of the ties between PSU, the BOT, and The Second Mile was superficial at best.  And when asked at the press conference if the scandal involved any other PSU officials, Freeh answered, "No. Next question."

One has to wonder, what is lurking below the surface at Penn State that would make the President and the BOT agree with $60 million in fines and a massive hit to the school's reputation?

Again, we all are waiting for the answers.


  1. Go to 2:44 of this clip of my appearance on Slaten's show on August 8, 2012

  2. I listened to that part again and I see the link with CB. I'm hoping a federal investigation comes out of this as you discuss on that interview. If those emailed are altered as you suspect, this is going to get very interesting

  3. Entirely possible that Baldwin was approv ed Jan 22 and her appointment was effective Feb. 1, correct?

  4. Yes, entirely possible, but that's not the only error on the affidavit. She also did not state that DPW investigated the 1998 incident, instead stating CYS investigated the incident. CYS ceased investigating on 5 May 1998.

    DPW was responsible, under the law, for conducting the investigation because Sandusky was an "agent" of the county through his association with Second Mile.

    DPW was the agency who called the shots in the investigation, ordered the second evaluation of the victim (over the objections of the police and the Asst District Attorney), interviewed Sandusky on June 1, 1998, and made the decision not to indicate a finding of child abuse.

    Ms. Baldwin reviewed the 1998 police report, which contains all those facts. It is hard to believe that she simply forgot DPW investigated in 1998.

  5. Ms. Baldwin reviewed the 1998 report? My my my.....I was not aware of that. How the plot thickens

  6. Read all about it in the latest post!

  7. So a consultant recommends hiring an "inside counsel". So they fire Courtney and his firm with a 50 year relationship and hire an individual with no experience in contracts, real estate, human resources or general University type issues while they search for a permanent firm. Yeah, makes sense to me. Maybe they were made at Courtney because he frequently lost opinion letters in the past or................