Archive for Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Statehouse Live: Wagle says KBA under investigation; Carlin defends agency

April 6, 2011, 10:35 a.m. Updated April 6, 2011, 4:11 p.m.


— Kansas Bioscience Authority leaders on Wednesday acknowledged that the agency was being investigated but disputed allegations of wrongdoing leveled by a state senator from Wichita.

In his first public comments since state Sen. Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, on Friday accused him of conflicts of interest, KBA President and Chief Executive Officer Tom Thornton said that he has done nothing wrong and that Wagle has left impressions that are not true.

Thornton was backed up by the KBA's board chairman John Carlin, a former Kansas governor. “None of her charges hold up,” Carlin said.

Their comments came after Wagle told reporters that the KBA was being investigated by the Johnson County District Attorney's office.

“There is a criminal investigation going on,” Wagle said. She declined to reveal any more information, except to say several employees have received subpoenas.

Carlin and Thornton said there is an investigation but that they knew little more than that. They said they weren't concerned about the probe because the agency is repeatedly audited. Chris McMullin, chief deputy district attorney in Johnson County, said the office would not comment on whether there was an investigation.

News of the investigation prompted Gov. Sam Brownback to issue a statement, saying he was “deeply concerned about the recent media reports regarding the Kansas Bioscience Authority.”

He said he supports the KBA's mission, “but we must leave no stone unturned to ensure the integrity and success of that mission.” His office would not comment beyond the statement.

Wagle, who is chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, has held several hearings during which she has been critical of the size of salaries and bonuses paid to Thornton and others at the KBA.

Thornton receives $265,000 per year. KBA officials have said his salary is in line with what similar positions pay in other states.

Wagle also has criticized some of the investments made by the agency.

The KBA is in charge of investing $581 million in tax funds to attract high-tech bioscience companies in Kansas.

On Friday, during a hearing on the KBA, Wagle released numerous documents in which she raised questions about Thornton's links to economic development in Illinois.

She cited his membership on an Illinois science technology committee and as being listed in charge of a technology political action committee in that state. On Wednesday, Thornton said his affiliations with those efforts were over before 2000, which is six years before he came to the KBA.

Wagle also mentioned a company that Thornton had been a leader in that went bankrupt and has been under scrutiny from federal officials. But Thornton said the company's troubles occurred after he disassociated himself from it and the company pursued another course. That also occurred before he came to Kansas, he said.

“To allege I was involved in any of that is ridiculous,” Thornton said. “It's the equivalent to say, I've been to Japan and have been responsible for the tsunami,” he said.

Carlin and Thornton said Wagle made requests for information and before they could respond she started a new round of allegations.

Wagle has defended her handling of the committee meetings, but last week several senators said they were uncomfortable with the procedure.

Carlin and Thornton say they have prepared a response to each of Wagle's assertions. She has scheduled another Commerce meeting on KBA for April 27 when the legislative session resumes.

In his statement, Brownback said, “Our interest is in seeing that taxpayer money is well-spent and Kansas laws are upheld.”


svenway_park 7 years, 1 month ago

I bet that evil Thornton guy probably took Dennis Daily's sex class too. Remember that particular Wagle fame-whore exercise?


Joe Blackford II 7 years, 1 month ago

Kansans have been assured the "NBAF will be safe."

KSU/DHS/MRI's Dr David Franz ran the SRI lab @ Fredrick before he jumped ship to MRI, KC, MO.

There's a record of an accidental shipment of live anthrax from Franz' lab to the Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute. Not sure if it was left by UPS on their doorstep, or signed for with FedEx; maybe USPS. You never know what the package you accedpted for your nayboors contains.

I stumbled across this in 2007: "Southern Research Institute" + Franz + oakland,or.r_gc.r_pw.&fp=d2085451b6f4f60f

Here's a LTE from Colonels Jaax, pre-"Anthrax Mailer was our employee" days:


I wonder what they're Googlin' @ the BRI this a.m.? Loose lips, sink ships. Loose cowbowels, sink NBAF

C'mon ex-Gov Carlin, tell us again how safe your KSU friends told you NBAF was going to be. Just as safe as the Colonels were taught by their incompetent &/or bio-terroristic employees?

wastewatcher 7 years, 1 month ago

Amazing that John Carlin would resort to his past governorship as a reason to prejudge an independent investigation. Why is he so strong in his defense, unless he too has something to hide. As a KSU employee, he is certainly conflicted in many areas. Remember the Johnson County DA is no longer Mr. Kline, so the LIBERALS cannot declare a witch hunt. Lets do a thorough investigation, including all potential conflicts of interest and self dealing and let the facts come out and let the chips fall where they may.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 1 month ago

With Wagle at the front, a "witch hunt" is pretty much guaranteed.

TNPlates 7 years, 1 month ago

It's another Wagle witch hunt. Thornton may be guilty of something - voting Democratic? - but that likely didn't enter the equation at the start of Wagle's efforts.

All of a sudden, Plum Island is looking pretty good for the NBAF...

Bob_Keeshan 7 years, 1 month ago

Ain't it interesting that Brownback decides to chime in using the exact same language Wagle used in the Topeka paper?

And the Governor is concerned about "media reports?" Note to the Governor -- the media isn't doing this, Susan Wagle is doing this. Looks like Brownback has decided to get on board with destroying jobs, but for some reason wants to blame "the media".

Because as he has said over and over again, his top priority is to destroy Kansas jobs.

pinecreek 7 years, 1 month ago

Let's investigate Wagle. I'm just sure she has nothing to hide....the inmates are truly running the asylum.

Better baseline the state now, it's going to be very different in 4 years.

WilburM 7 years, 1 month ago

Hey, Seeker. Stop with a comment like that. Sen Wagle is not my favorite, and I'm really skeptical of her attacks, but that comment is completely uncalled for and offensive. No wonder that these threads disintegrate into name-calling and attacks.

newmedia 7 years, 1 month ago

Let them have their say. If there is no wrong doing the truth will set them free!

nativeson 7 years, 1 month ago

Let the process take its course without releasing excerpts to the public. It certainly appears that there is an agenda to take control of KBA by the administration, but it should not be done at the expense of allegations that may prove to be unfounded against an individual. If it turns out there are issues, they will come to the surface.

Sharon Aikins 7 years, 1 month ago

Legitimate investigation by Wagle and associate(s) or political witch hunt/antics? Will be interesting to see what pans out with this one.

Alceste 7 years, 1 month ago

The Kansas way of doing business: "He's guilty. Now let's go find the evidence." shrug

Tim Quest 7 years, 1 month ago

Is there mention of bioscience in the Bible? No? Well then it doesn't exist.

Jim Williamson 7 years, 1 month ago

I'd bet Susan Wagle is seeing a whole team of psychiatrists.

sciencegeek 7 years, 1 month ago

Kansas lands a major development, with all sorts of positive for jobs, development, etc. and what does Wagle the Wingnut do?--try to kill it off. Maybe if Boeing or the Koch brothers were behind it it would be considered an asset?

Just what we need, another attack on something having to do with "science". Haven't we had enough damage to our reputation due to the science-phobic, Bible-twisting lunatic fringe?

Sadly, Wichita must be proud her to keep sending her to Topeka. Do us all a favor--keep her home with you!

Grump 7 years, 1 month ago

Wagle and Brownback will soon announce that the real objective of the KBA is to to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.

volunteer 7 years, 1 month ago

Once again I cannot see anyone else's comments...but a quarter of a mil in Kansas seems high. Our cost of living is not as high as in other states. Our schoolteachers certainly don't earn about what the pay is in other states..even the chemistry and physics and harder to find teachers.

And many among us cannot find ANY job.

But Carlin seemed more trustworthy to many of us than Mr. Brownback. Hard to decide these things from the sofa..especially when others' online comments are invisible.

susieparker 7 years, 1 month ago

There are too many issues that have been raised and they need to be investigated. You might find that Senator Wagle is working without an agenda. In my opinion, the money the KBA is spending on nice salaries, offices, meals, travel could pay salaries for more than a few teachers.

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