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Plot Thickens Around SUNY Research Foundation President

John J. O’Connor, president of the SUNY Research Foundation is currently on leave from his $276,000/year post due to an ethics probe questioning his role in hiring former state senate majority leader Joseph Bruno’s daughter Susan for a no-show job.

Today, the Associated Press reports that an internal memo from SUNY shows the state university system also wants a review of O’Connor’s involvement with the American Ditchley Foundation.

Artvoice has found the 990 tax forms for the Ditchley Foundation. They show that O’Connor has not only been “involved” with the foundation, but that he’s been the Executive Director there for several years. In that capacity, he made $80,000 from that foundation in 2007 (although it was paid to The Ballintober Group, with John O’Connor as the owner), $75,417 in 2008, and $85,000 in 2009. Ballintober Group has this one page website courtesy of Email

In addition to O’Connor, Ditchley Foundation board members also include former SUNY Trustee and son-in-law to former president Richard M. Nixon, Ed Cox, and SUNY University Counsel and Vice Chancellor for Legal Affairs Nicolas Rostow. Cox also served as chairman of the State University Construction Fund.

O’Connor’s lawyer claims he had “permission” to join the Ditchley Foundation in 2001, under former Governor Pataki. He was hired by SUNY in 1997 as vice chancellor and secretary of the university.

Click below to see the tax forms.

Ditchley Foundation 2007 990

Ditchley Foundation 2008 990

Ditchley Foundation 2009 990



  • Jim Holstun

    If I were Mr. O’Connor, the phrase that would bring my heart to my mouth is “certain transactional activities,” which translates roughly as “somebody screwed the pooch.”

    Given the miasma that has settled on the Research Foundation, I wonder if the trustees and directors of the UB Foundation, its secretive local cousin, will be able to continue keeping its books private.

    Say, you don’t suppose that a group of local business magnates and their hand-picked university presidents, given unsupervised access to a $410,000,000 endowment, could have done something UNETHICAL, do you? Surely their reluctance to open the books couldn’t be a mere fear of prosecution!

    “Is that a roll of bills in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?”

  • Jonathan Wellinton-Fidrych III

    What’s the big deal here? Everyone knows you have to pay decent money to get quality people like Brother John. No story here, move along.

  • RHMacCallum

    What was it that Paul Simon said? “A loose affiliation of millionaires and billionaires and oh boy!”