BOR Meeting 2/23

Iowa State president Steven Leath addresses the Board of Regents during a meeting on Feb. 23 in the Alumni Center. Leath talked how the university would respond to recent budget cuts (postponing renovations on the library, Kildee Hall, and the events center), the opening of the Student Wellness Center, and the most recent student diversity statistics.

After a several-month investigation into Iowa State University President Steven Leath's use of university aircraft, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation has found no evidence of Leath committing any crime.

According to Story County Attorney Jessica Reynolds, the DCI approached her office earlier this month stating that the matter was closed.

Leath has continued to make headlines within the past six months over an incident involving a hard-landing of a university aircraft he was piloting in Bloomington, Ill., last year, resulting in more than $14,000 in damage.

Since then, Leath has been under scrutiny for several questionable uses of university aircraft.

In a statement released Wednesday, officials with the DCI said they began their investigation in December. The state agency handled the investigation at the request of the Iowa State Department of Public Safety, which deferred to the DCI to avoid any conflict of interest, the statement read.

The statement indicated that investigators with the DCI "interviewed many different people and analyzed several pieces of information and records" before issuing its findings to Reynolds' office.

According to an audit conducted late last year, four of Leath's flights were used for a mix of personal and university business pursuits between 2015 and 2016.

On one of those flights, Leath was scheduled to travel to North Carolina last August to meet with a potential donor to the Iowa State Research Park. Auditors found the donor canceled the meeting with Leath, but Leath remained in the state for a few days. 

For those four flights, Leath reimbursed the university at $125 per flight hour. However, the audit estimated the cost of those flights to be around $265 per hour. The audit recommends the Regents bill Leath accordingly.

The audit also states the landing Leath's pilots took in Elmira, N.Y., after leaving an NCAA tournament game in New York City in March 2014 was not necessary except for picking up and dropping off passengers, which included Leath's brother and sister-in-law.

Auditors also noted Leath used university resources to fly to Rochester, Minn., three times between May 2013 and August 2016 for medical appointments at the Mayo Clinic. Todd Stewart, chief audit executive for the Iowa Board of Regents, said the board could fix the issue by adding a clause for free annual physicals in Leath's contract.

Auditors also found Leath rented or chartered private flights several times between 2012 and 2015, costing the university more than $12,000.

In a special meeting in December, Leath told the Regents he was remorseful for using university planes more than absolutely necessary, but maintained he had not done anything wrong.

"I did not violate any policy or break any laws," he said. "But that's not enough. I want to conduct myself beyond reproach, and I'm sorry that I did not use better judgment."

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