Iowa State has asked the Board of Regents to expand its internal audit of President Steven Leath's use of university-owned aircraft, including whether Leath violated the university’s firearms and weapons policy, a school spokesperson said Wednesday.
The board is already conducting a comprehensive audit of ISU’s Flight Service, including Leath’s mixed use of school-owned planes for personal and business use. Megan Landolt, a communications assistant to President Leath, said that as new questions have been asked, the school has asked to the board to look at areas of concern.
Leath and the school have maintained that several trips using school aircraft have included hunting outings with potential school donors.
Iowa State’s weapons policy prohibits “the unauthorized transportation, use or storage of any firearms, weapons and/or explosives,” but does allow for a request to be submitted to allow for the transportation of weapons. The request is submitted in writing and approved by either The Office of Risk Management or The Department of Public Safety.
The questions about transportation of weapons have been raised by the Iowa-based blogger Bleeding Heartland. The blog said it submitted an open records request to Iowa State on the subject, including requests by Leath and any passengers to transport weapons, but Iowa State said it had no such records earlier in November.
The Daily asked The Office of the President if Leath transported any weapons, including firearms for hunting, and if so, whether or not Leath followed the correct ISU policy to get permission to do so. Landolt said the school would not comment until the audit findings are reported, because it may “jeopardize the integrity of the audit.”
Leath’s hunting outings have been highlighted in news reports during an ongoing look into his use of university-owned aircraft. In one report by the Associated Press, school records on the aircraft show that Leath flew for donor meetings that included hunting trips, including with Bill Dougherty, who Leath called his “best friend” and “hunting buddy;” Pete Brownell, an NRA board member; Ames real-estate agent Dean Hunziker; and professional bowhunter John Dudley and his wife, Sharon.
Hunziker told the AP on one trip, the group, which included now-Vice President-elect Mike Pence and wealthy Indiana businessman Steve Hageman, shot doves and had a barbecue. Another trip with Hunziker and Hageman included shooting ducks.
Landolt said they audit all users of university-owned aircraft, not just Leath.
During the Board of Regents meeting on Oct. 20, Chief Audit Executive Todd Stewart told board members that their preliminary investigation found Leath's travel did not conflict with any university policy and that the plane purchases followed board policy.
The board then voted for a more comprehensive review, including an audit of each individual flight by the ISU Flight Service since Leath joined Iowa State as president in 2012.
The school has said “President Leath welcomes the full audit, will fully cooperate and is committed to adhering to university and board policies.”