Kansas Bioscience Authority Cleared Of Criminal Charges
The Kansas Bioscience Authority and its former President and CEO Tom Thornton will not face any criminal charges over inappropriate use of state tax dollars.
That’s according to a statement released this morning by the Johnson County District Attorney’s office.
The D.A.’s office reviewed both internal and external audits of the KBA over the last 15 months.
It concluded that thousands of dollars in travel and personal expenses were inappropriately charged to the state-funded agency, but that there was not enough evidence to warrant criminal charges. DA Steve Howe added that Kansas taxpayers could be offended that the agency acted like a private company, but under the circumstances there still is not enough evidence for a prosecution.
The D.A. said that because the management and board of the KBA signed off on the charges, prosecution was "virtually impossible."
The KBA is funded by the Kansas Economic Growth Act http://www.kansasbioauthority.org/about_the_kba/KEGA_090507.pdf with $580 million in withholdings from employees of bioscience -related companies.
The Kansas legislature called for the audits in the wake of questions about KBA spending of taxpayer dollars.
The audits revealed spending for, among other things, travel, lavish hotels and meals for lobbying, including lobbying for the top-security animal disease lab known as NBAF, slated to be build on the Kansas State campus in Manhattan, Kansas.
KBA chairman David Vranicar said in an interview that the agency had put in a number of safeguards, e.g. stricter oversight and accountability, to ensure against similiar book keeping problems don't happen again. He said the agency was moving forward and focusing on enhancing the biosciences in the state.