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Archive for Friday, April 8, 2011

Statehouse Live: Kansas Bioscience Authority authorizes audit in light of Gov. Sam Brownback’s request

April 8, 2011, 3:17 p.m. Updated April 8, 2011, 5:33 p.m.

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— A high-powered struggle between Gov. Sam Brownback and the Kansas Bioscience Authority exploded into public view on Friday.

Brownback demanded that the KBA, which has been hit by allegations from a state senator and is apparently under investigation by the Johnson County District Attorney’s office, submit to a “forensic” audit.

Brownback, a Republican, also wanted to have his team “observe” all actions, activities and records at the economic development agency. He set a 3 p.m. deadline for an answer.

In a hastily called meeting, the KBA board of directors, led by former Gov. John Carlin, a Democrat, agreed to the audit.

Then Carlin sent an e-mail to Brownback and said that any observers from Brownback’s administration would have to agree to maintain the integrity of confidential business records regarding companies that receive grants from the KBA. The authority is charged with investing $581 million in tax dollars to develop the bioscience industry in Kansas.

That brought a sharply worded news release from Brownback.

“Now they say observers may only see what the KBA wants them to see, and auditors can only look at what the KBA wants them to look at. That is not effective oversight,” Brownback said.

“This does nothing to satisfy the public’s or the administration’s legitimate concerns,” he said.

Carlin responded that he didn’t want to get into a back-and-forth with Brownback.

“We are not trying to delay anything. We will demonstrate that we are serious and it (the forensic audit) will be done right,” he said.

Sen. Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, who is chairwoman of the Senate Commerce Committee, has held several hearings during which she has criticized the KBA’s President and Chief Executive Officer Tom Thornton.

Recently, she accused him of having conflicts of interest by serving on an Illinois economic development panel and chairing an Illinois political action committee. But Thornton has said Wagle has her facts wrong -- he stopped serving in those capacities more than 10 years ago, years before he came to the KBA in 2006.

The Johnson County District Attorney's office has issued several subpoenas to employees at the KBA but investigators have refused to comment on what they are looking into. Both Carlin and Thornton have said they don’t know what the investigation is about.

Several Senate leaders, Republican and Democratic, have said Wagle’s inquiry has gone out of bounds.

Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka has said that Brownback is trying to take control of the KBA.

Brownback has denied the allegation. In a letter dated Thursday, he said his administration has been working with the KBA for more than a month, asking that a forensic audit be done. The KBA had maintained that it is regularly audited and been given a clean record.

Comments

lawrenceguy40 3 years, 4 months ago

The KBA is state funded welfare for the so called educated and so called scientists.

Close it down now. The State is bankrupt and the hard working tax payer cannot afford to pay more to keep the idle paid for doing nothing.

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sourpuss 3 years, 4 months ago

Yet the KBA brings in a lot of good jobs! This isn't welfare, it gets corporate tax money, not state tax money, and it all goes back into the Kansas economy. You're the one posting on here at 3:47 on a Friday afternoon. Who's doing nothing around here?

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Bob_Keeshan 3 years, 4 months ago

I was told this week that the KBA's "taxpayer funding" all comes from the taxes paid by the companies and jobs that the KBA attracts. If the KBA doesn't attract companies and jobs, then the KBA doesn't get funding.

If you google "Sam Brownback" and "Top Priority" you will find that he has said over and over again that his top priority is to publicly degrade the economic growth engines that have prevented the recession in Kansas from being as bad as in other states, right? Or it says growing the economy is his "top priority," but he is quickly demonstrating he is all talk.

Meanwhile, he is fully committed to pitiful tax rebates if you move to a county with no jobs and no information infrastructure. By the way, he is also committed to abolishing Kan-Ed, which provides information infrastructure supporting the few jobs in the communities he wants people to flock to.

Kind of makes you wonder what Brownback's real "top priority" is. Firing off snide news releases on a Friday afternoon is not what most people would refer to as finding jobs for 110,000 out of work Kansans.

This administration needs to get in the game, so far it looks to be a one-term disaster on par with Mike Hayden in the 80's.

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in123 3 years, 4 months ago

KU hired an auditor and promoted the guilty. Wonder what will happen at the KBA? Hmmmm.

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weeslicket 3 years, 4 months ago

let's follow the steps for a bit: 1. from the article: "Brownback, a Republican, also wanted to have his team “observe” all actions, activities and records at the economic development agency. He set a 3 p.m. deadline for an answer." we aren't told when this message was sent, but i am assuming it was sometime before 3 pm. on that day. (kindly note the word "hasitly" in the next bit) 2. also from the article: "In a HASTILY called meeting, the KBA board of directors, led by former Gov. John Carlin, a Democrat, agreed to the audit." WHAT? agreement?? 3 and then: "Carlin sent an e-mail to Brownback and said that any observers from Brownback’s administration would have to agree to maintain the integrity of confidential business records regarding companies that receive grants from the KBA. :: which does not equal :: “Now they say observers may only see what the KBA wants them to see, and auditors can only look at what the KBA wants them to look at." 4. also: "Sen. Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, who is chairwoman of the Senate Commerce Committee..." she of the vagina dialougues.....

  1. wtf is going on with all of this?
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tomatogrower 3 years, 4 months ago

  1. also from the article: "In a hastily called meeting, the KBA board of directors, led by former Gov. John Carlin, a Democrat, agreed to the audit." WHAT? agreement?? 3 and then: "Carlin sent an e-mail to Brownback and said that any observers from Brownback’s administration would have to agree to maintain the integrity of confidential business records regarding companies that receive grants from the KBA. :: which does not equal :: “Now they say observers may only see what the KBA wants them to see, and auditors can only look at what the KBA wants them to look at."

Yes, I was wondering how Brownback got that interpretation. That's when I decided it was strictly political. He'll get rid of those who work there now, put in some former Koch employees, and raise their wages. And not one job will be created for the next 3 and half years, at least I hope that's all the longer Brownback and his crew will last.

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Joe Blackford II 3 years, 4 months ago

A careful audit of the KBA would reveal Dr. David Franz, KBA voting member; KSU's one-time chief of the KSU National Agro- Bio-terroricm Center; Dept. of Homeland Security Science & Technology Advisory Committee; VP of Midwest Research Institute, KC, MO; selected his alma mater to get the NBAF & soon his employer (MRI) will be getting contracts from the NBAF. I'd imagine the KBA spent $ on Franz' travel from MRI's Maryland lab @ USAMRIID to Manhattan while he represented KSU, MRI & DHS. Evidently has to travel with 3 hat boxes.

When Rep. Boyda was asked IF KBA's tax dollars were being spent against those opposing bringing the NBAF to KSU, she refused to answer, or look into it.

MRI has an office at NISTAC, where Wefald, K. Glasscock & Bob Krause skimmed $ off the top of KSU's sale of NutriJoy to CocaCola. The KSU Wefald departure audit questioned their ethics. Wefald appointed Krause's wife, Martha Vanier, to head KSU's NABC following Franz' departure.

Franz' 2 subordinates @ US Army Medical Institute for Infectious Diseases, are also KSU alums; and misled Kansans into believing the NBAF could be safely & securely operated. Meanwhile, a USAMRIID employee, Dr. Bruce Ivins, was identified by the FBI as the Anthrax Mailer. No Kansas newspaper has ever printed these FACTS.

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yourworstnightmare 3 years, 4 months ago

Getting into petty slap fights with the head of one of the state's major economic engines does not reflect well on Brownback.

The short deadlines, moving targets, and repeated accusations from Brownback and Wagle give this a very personal, vindictive feel.

You better find some major wrong-doing, Sam and Susan. Otherwise, this will be simply vindictive political attack on a major economic engine of the state.

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BigPrune 3 years, 4 months ago

You'd think they'd set it all up whitewateresque, so it is difficult to track. But, having to submit to confidentiality could be construed as it wouldn't be admissible in court perhaps?

Open, no hiding, no secrets....it's the Democratic way isn't it? Another do as I say, not as I do?

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Bob_Keeshan 3 years, 4 months ago

Absolutely, because the best way to attract companies looking to develop high-priced proprietary advancements in the biosciences is to publish as much of their trade secrets as possible in the newspaper. Brownback's Secretary of Agriculture, a career shill for corporate agriculture, knows this better than anyone. You think Cargill or ADM would ever allow a group of politicians to hang out and peruse their books? No chance, they would immediately relocate to a state that understands business.

The point of the KBA board is to provide oversight, and the KBA board provides more oversight than most. What Brownback is after is not "oversight," it is political control. Pathetic.

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tomatogrower 3 years, 4 months ago

At first I agreed with Wagle about the wages paid for this group, and I think they are still too high, but now I see what they are up to. Carlin's a Democrat and Brownback just wants to put some Koch flunkies in there. It couldn't be more obvious.

On another note, doesn't Wagle remind you of Dolores Umbridge in Harry Potter? She was that pompous, moralistic wizard who carved things into students hands as punishment. Guess that makes Brownback Lord Voldemort. Or maybe he's just one of the Death Eaters, and his handlers are Lord Voldemort. Anyway, this whole administration creeps me out.

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BigPrune 3 years, 4 months ago

I think the reporter is just trying to make it a democrat vs republican battle. probably talking points by the state democrats repeated verbatim.

no over sight, lots of money and high salaries = potential major corruption.

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yourworstnightmare 3 years, 4 months ago

I also agreed at first with the heightened oversight suggested by Wagle.

Then it became clear that this was not oversight but a politically motivated attack and an attempt to transfer authority from the current board.

As Bob said above, this sort of open books policy is extreme and would not/will not be tolerated by companies with trade secrets and practices wanting to relocate to Kansas or start here.

Brownback is not only not creating jobs, he is killing them, in one of the most promising future economies for the state.

Wagle and Brownback had better find some major wrong doing, or this will be widely perceived for what it actually is, a hostile takeover.

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Richard Heckler 3 years, 4 months ago

"At first I agreed with Wagle about the wages paid for this group, and I think they are still too high, but now I see what they are up to. Carlin's a Democrat and Brownback just wants to put some Koch flunkies in there. It couldn't be more obvious."

Exactly. This is not driven by morality or fiscal responsibility.

Thinking about it a little longer however is good because the high salaries are questionable if not outrageous. Thus far the large spending is not providing large numbers of jobs quickly and may never do so. Why continue down this road at all? Koch thinkers can destroy economies as this demonstrates: http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2005/0705rebne.html

There are many many states reaching out to the associated industries which makes all vulnerable to larger tax dollar give away's in the end.

Bob Schumm may have the better idea. Use the same concept to promote small local downtown business with reduced tax dollar assistance amounts for a period of say 3 years. Instead of 10 or 15 years which stinks.

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Flap Doodle 3 years, 4 months ago

Koch flag and a link to a 6 years old article! Come on, planet-killer merrill, you can do better than that, can't you?

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true_patriot 3 years, 4 months ago

The fact that Wagle could be considered a reputable voice on anything is ludicrous. Look at her history and her behavior as an elected official - she's a nutcase.

Brownback was fully supportive of the attack on science in our Kansas classrooms that drew national attention in 1999 and is now attacking one of the key components to attracting bioscience business to Kansas. And yet he actually campaigned on a platform of attracting bioscience business to Kansas and he fully condones the repeated cuts to public education and research at our universities the past several years.

He is a walking mass of political contradictions and is wasting precious capital and time that could have been spent to build a Kansas where all Kansans prosper rather than the top 1 percent.

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GmaD321 3 years, 4 months ago

Who elected this idiot in the 1st place?

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pace 3 years, 4 months ago

Is the KBI just suppose to investigate the enemies of the governor or is it guided by law? We are losing law in Kansas. Just another Kansas service that is being dismantled and converted to a Koch subsidiary.

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Richard Heckler 3 years, 4 months ago

Koch Family Foundations

"Author Thomas Frank wrote in "What's the Matter with Kansas?" that "Koch money flowed through Triad Management Services"[3], an advisory service to conservative donors groups and candidates, for the 1996 Senate campaign of Sam Brownback."

"Sons Charles G. Koch and David H. Koch run the company as well as the Koch Family Foundations, which together are one of the largest single sources of funding for conservative organizations in the United States. Organizations and think tanks supported by the foundation include Citizens for a Sound Economy, the libertarian Cato Institute, Reason Magazine, the Manhattan Institute, the Heartland Institute, and the Democratic Leadership Council. David H. Koch ran for president on the Libertarian Party ticket in 1980."

"Again author Thomas Frank wrote in "What's the Matter with Kansas?" that "Koch money flowed through Triad Management Services"[3], an advisory service to conservative donors groups and candidates, for the 1996 Senate campaign of Sam Brownback."

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pavlovs_dog 3 years, 4 months ago

Sam honey, where are the job's?

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Centerville 3 years, 4 months ago

It's Easter, and John Carlin's trying to scare you!

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