Carney withdraws Grant’s trustee nomination as lawsuit containing sexual harassment allegations looms
EDITOR IN CHIEF
UPDATE: The university is no longer accepting a $10 million donation from the Grants toward the creation of the graduate college, which was previously planned to be named after the Grants.
Gov. John Carney has withdrawn his nomination of Stuart M. Grant for a second term as a trustee at the university, with Carney selecting Claire DeMatteis, a university alumna and former senior counsel to Joe Biden, to take Grant’s place.
According to a press release from the Office of the Governor, the decision follows a request from Grant that his name be withdrawn.
Carney’s decision comes as Grant finds himself embroiled in a lawsuit, which, as The Review reported in March, contains allegations that Grant has sexually harassed female associates at his law firm, Grant & Eisenhofer. The lawsuit itself is unrelated to the claims, involving a dispute between Grant and Reuben Guttman, a former director at Grant & Eisenhofer, over a client.
In a letter to Carney asking that his nomination be withdrawn, Grant denied the accusations made in the lawsuit, citing repercussions in the state senate and the university community that followed coverage of the lawsuit by The Review and The News Journal.
“It is very disappointing that there are some at UD, a place where we have given so much over the past seven years, who would turn on me so quickly with no support or factual backing,” Grant wrote in the letter. “I have done nothing wrong. But I am not naive to the political climate in which we now live. It is in an act of support, not anger, that I make my request of you, in the hope that my departure from the UD board will avoid any further controversy.”
The Review was unable to substantiate the claims made in the lawsuit. In March, a statement provided by Carney’s office indicated that the governor was unaware of the lawsuit when he renominated Grant for a second term.
Grant and his wife, Suzanne Grant, have also made large donations to the university, funding the equine science minor and the university’s soccer stadium, which is named after the couple. More recently, the Grants have pledged $10 million to support the creation of an eighth college for the university — the “graduate college” that the university has moved forward with plans for under the conditions of the Grant’s gift agreement over the course of the semester.
According to Andrea Boyle Tippett, the university’s director of external relations, the university will no longer be accepting money from the Grants for the college.
“The University is actively seeking new donations to support the graduate college as we have decided not to name the college after the Grants,” Boyle Tippett stated in an email.
Following their nomination by the Governor, trustees must receive majority approval in the state senate, but Grant’s reconfirmation hearing has remained unscheduled for months following his nomination. As such, Grant, who concluded his first term as a trustee in 2017, has been serving on an expired term.
In the past, Grant has helped fund the political campaigns of Carney and former Gov. Jack Markell, among other Democratic politicians, contributing thousands of dollars in financial support to their election campaigns. Carney, for instance, received funding from Grant during his first two terms as a U.S. congressman.
State Sen. David McBride, senate president pro tempore, said in March that, given the nature of the lawsuit, there was no need to rush ahead with a reconfirmation hearing. Since then McBride has called for Carney to renounce his nomination of Grant, demanding an investigation into allegations in the lawsuit and refusing to move forward with a confirmation hearing.
In April, Grant announced that he would be retiring from Grant & Eisenhofer this month, a decision that The News Journal reported was unrelated to the ongoing lawsuit. Grant is currently listed as a managing director on Grant & Eisenhofer’s website.