U of Louisville Foundation Bought Vacant Factory at Donor's Behest

October 12, 2016

The University of Louisville Foundation in 2014 bought an abandoned factory in Oklahoma at the behest of a major foundation donor, according to the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.

Henry Heuser Jr. owned the former machine company facility. In 2013 Heuser gave the foundation $2 million for a scholarship fund and pledged $13.8 million more for a separate gift. One year later a Heuser-owned shell company loaned the foundation $3.5 million to buy 99 percent of the factory space's real estate holding company. The facility never sold. Then, in August, a day after a reporter from the center visited the vacant factory, the foundation and the company decided to unwind the deal. No money ever changed hands.

“It’s a good example of how fund-raising arms of colleges and universities in particular really can basically sell their souls to a donor in return for the possibility of a contribution,” Marcus Owens, a lawyer and former Internal Revenue Service official, told the center after reviewing the deal.

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