Archive for Tuesday, April 12, 2011

State Sen. Wagle continues criticism of Kansas Bioscience Authority; agency officials deny wrongdoing

April 12, 2011


— State Sen. Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, on Tuesday resumed her attack on the Kansas Bioscience Authority with new criticisms, but leaders at the economic development agency said she was wrong.

In an email to reporters, Wagle cited a YouTube video of KBA President and CEO Tom Thornton speaking before a business group in Wisconsin as evidence that Thornton was wasting taxpayers’ money.

In the talk, Thornton talks about a KBA plan to try to attract venture capital firms, saying that the firms are not required to invest in Kansas companies.

Wagle said Thornton was showing “disdain” for Kansas taxpayers.

“Our goal is to create new jobs and foster economic growth in Kansas, not Illinois, not Wisconsin, and not any other state,” Wagle said.

But KBA board chairman John Carlin and David Vranicar, president of Heartland Bioventures, the commercialization arm of the KBA, said the agency’s plan to lure venture capital firms has been hugely successful.

“We’ve gone from no venture capital firms to three, and our expectation is there will be more soon,” Vranicar said.

He said those companies are not legally required to invest in Kansas businesses, but the KBA steers them toward in-state companies. And funds invested by the KBA into the venture capital firms comes back in investment returns to benefit KBA-led programs, he said.

Carlin said, “We’re very proud of what’s been done.”

In a news release, Wagle also said the KBA awarded $5 million to Midwest Venture Partners, which she said “didn’t even have a venture fund.”

But Vranicar said KBA has not invested anything in Midwest Ventures. “They did not meet all of our requirements,” he said.

Wagle has been critical of the KBA for the past several months. Recently, it was revealed that the Johnson County District Attorney’s office had launched a criminal investigation into the KBA, but has refused to say what is being looked into.

KBA officials have denied any wrongdoing.

Last week, Gov. Sam Brownback asked that the KBA undergo a forensic audit. The board agreed and hired a firm, but Brownback and Wagle have questioned whether the audit will be independent of the board’s influence.

“This auditor has been hired by the KBA and will be directed by the KBA to only look at expenditures that are legitimate. They will not dig in the dirt. The fox is guarding the hen house,” Wagle said.

But Carlin has said the audit will be independent and has invited Brownback and legislative leaders to share any concerns or information with the auditors.


Bob_Keeshan 7 years ago

How refreshing to see the chair of the Senate Commerce Committee speaking out against drawing venture capital firms to Kansas. It is very cutting edge, other state will be taken completely by surprise.

SeaBee 7 years ago

Susan, I think your aluminum foil hat is leaking - again.

Agree w/Cap'n K. above.

Joe Blackford II 7 years ago

Dear Auditors,

Please be so kind as to call me & discuss the myriad conflicts of interest held by KBA Board Member Col/Dr David Franz. Dr Death is somewhere on the KBA bio-terrorism elevator:

Floor 1: Commander, USAMRIID, enabler of Dr. Bruce Ivins, the Anthrax Mailer, 2001.

Floor 2: Southern Research Institute lab in MD, USAMRIID contractor, & in charge of mistakenly mailed Live Anthrax to Oakland, CA, children's hospital lab.

Floor 3: Midwest Research Institute, KC, MO, VP in charge of the MRI lab @ USAMRIID in MD.

Floor 4: NBAF in KS committee member.

Floor 5: In charge of KSU's National Agro-& Bio-terrorism Center.

Floor 6: Member of Kansas Bioscience Authority which sends $ to KSU's NISTAC, where MRI has been given offices (for free).

Floor 7: Member of DHS Science & Technology advisory committee which picked KSU for NBAF.

Floor 8: Authorizes > $500K to Tom Thornton, KBA Smuck in Chief, who hired his own wife, > $100K. Thornton comes to Manhattan to answer Qs about NBAF, but leaves room when I bring up Franz' conflicted interests & who got the under the table deals with former AD Bob Krause (Wefald's KBA rep). Bob's wife appointed to replace Franz @ KSU's NABC.

Floor 9: NIH "Dual Use" Research Committee, Franz' term for when a trusted employee (Ivins) uses your research to kill Americans. Co-member, Dr. Paul Keim, working for FBI, pins mailed anthrax on Franz' employee.

Floor 10: Back to MRI, company changes name & URL to .MRIglobal, burying news release naming Franz as VP.

Floor 11: Back @ KSU for various "we're getting the NBAF, buy a spew-off with KBA $$$" symposia.

Floor 12: Back in MD, cooking up germs for MRI to sell to his former command, USAMRIID, now a Top Secret - Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility due to discovery that former employee's Secret Clearance gave access to lethal Anthrax.

Floor 13: there is no Floor 13, Franz got off the elevator somewhere with most of the KBA's money transferred into a travel & per diem payment issued by Tom Thornton & John Carlin, former dairyman, turned naive bio-terrorism spew-off snake oil salesman.

Jd Finch 7 years ago

Mr. Rothschild,

What initiated Sen Wagle's attacks on KBA? Does she have an embittered constituent or did she lose a political fight re: KBA's location or is Sen. Wagle's aluminum foil hat leaking? Neither this article nor the articles that preceded it provide any context for her attacks/concerns. Could you clarify her charges (or whatever they are) against KBA? I've read the soundbite, but she must have something to substantiate her aggravation. Better yet, can you post her e-mails and KBA's responses? I'm not trying to advocate for free advertising for Sen Wagle, but save for Catnap's post, I have no idea why a Republican state Sen. would make accusations that seem unfriendly to potential businesses/ federal money for KS.

My only impression thus far is that these accusations are political grandstanding - which may very well be the case - but that's just based on my own reading of the articles, not on substantive information.

More info, please!

Thanks, jay

Stymie 7 years ago

Maybe it was the KBA need for THREE Directors of Commercialization. This triple redundancy comes at a cost of $532,090 in salary, benefits, and bonuses. Or maybe it was the conflict of interests of Thornton and Vranicar hiring and paying outrageous salaries to unqualified friends and girlfriends.

Thunderdome 7 years ago

I second that request. While a great amount of catsup's information is highly speculative and I do support NBAF coming to Kansas, he brings up some unfortunately valid concerns about conflicts of interest regarding Dr. Franz, MRI, and Thornton. In reality, there are substantive conflicts of interest occurring in academia in general. Hiring, cronyism, and profiteering need to be investigated throughout the Regents system and among our economic development agencies and stiff penalties need to be instituted.

Joe Blackford II 7 years ago

That dang Catsap sent an email to All members of the Senate Commerce Committee. Google Catsap on & see for yourselves.

As a former biology teacher, I'm still puzzled how a top secret lab handles bacterial & viral agents to be sure no employee copycats Dr. Ivins, the Anthrax Mailer (Army gave him its highest civilian honor in 2003 for his work on Anthrax). The FBI has postulated several possible scenarios @ U S A M R I I D. K S U wants to give those same Colonels do-overs here in KS w/zoonotic diseases, yet the NBAF won't be a Top Secret - Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, nor be built to withstand a F-4 tornado, like the one that hit Manhattan in 2008.

Kansas is betting the farms for ~ 300 Federal jobs relocated to KSU. But my bet is MRI will transfer researchers from its Fredrick, MD, lab. Pres. Bush signed an E.O. permitting contract employees to transfer between agencies with their ts-scif clearances intact. After the Anthrax Mailings, employees @ U.S. Federal germ labs had to get ts-scif clearance, rather than the fingerprint & National Agency Information Check = S E C R E T. It takes a long time for the Men & Women in Black to quiz all your friends, neighbors & enemies to see if there's any reason you're a security risk. One prospective secretary @ Ft. Leavenworth sat down & was told her husband had another wife, in England.

missmagoo 7 years ago

I think the people of Wichita should stop electing this TROLL!

MidwesternCivility 7 years ago

An examination of KBA revealed some very sad facts. First, KBA does not or has not hired any people of color. The 17 administrators listed on their website are all white. Does this indicate that KBA cannot find or will not hire any qualified Mexican-American, African-American, or any people of color? Second, the KBA website does not indicate any means for job opportunities. Third, after calling KBA and asking about job opportunities, the person answering the phone said they do not have any. When I asked who their Equal Employment Opportunity compliance official was, she refered me to their Chief Opperating Officer. When asked to be connected to the COO, I was told they were not in, but I could leave a voice message.

This is outragous. Mr. Thornton along with former Gov. of Kansas KBA board chairman John Carlin need to offer their resignation by the end of this week. Kansas is the home of Brown vs. the Board of Education, we fought on the Union side of the Civil War. This elite white only attitude as proven by their actions has absolutely no place in Kansas.

throwdown_wallet 7 years ago

So you are basing this assertion on a look at their website plus one phone call?

I question the motivations behind the people who are trying to stir up trouble for the KBA. (Senator Wagle, I'm looking at you.) I am not only concerned about the negative message this witch hunt sends to businesses considering coming to Kansas, but also about the time the KBA staff must be spending having to jump through Wagle's and Brownback's hoops. I'd rather they be able to spend their time trying to bring business to our state. It's got to be tough to get bioscience firms to take us seriously when we are led by a man who doesn't believe in evolution and represented by someone like Susan Wagle.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 7 years ago

This is the same stupid idiot that tried to attack Dennis Dailey, the professor at KU she accused of using pornography in his classes. She is a dumb-as -a box-or-rocks-and-dirt and why the people of Wichita seem to think she is a competant representative is completely beyond me.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.