Ethics Accusations Dismissed

By By U Wire

By U Wire

EUGENE, Ore.?A state ethics panel dismissed complaints against seven University of Oregon employees Friday, voting 6-1 that University Foundation money those employees received was legitimate reimbursement for work-related expenses.

The dismissal of the complaints brings an end to an investigation begun in July when a state Audit Division official filed seven complaints with the Oregon Government Standards and Practices Commission alleging that $7,372.98 in foundation money had been misused. The University claimed that the money was used to reimburse employees for legitimate business expenses.

Those expenses included plane tickets to the Aloha Bowl, a tuxedo rental, catering for parties and receptions and a luncheon in honor of Administrative Professionals Day. According to Pat Hearn, director of the Government Standards and Practices Commission, the panel?s decision indicates that while the expenses may have been unusual, they were not illegal.

?The University administration provided information that showed that those uses?as bizarre as some of them were?were legitimate as far as they knew,? Hearn said. ?The issue for us wasn’t whether the money came from foundation money or from public money, but the way the money was used.?

The University has been embroiled in a number of difficulties involving audits in recent months. A state audit of the softball team’s budget uncovered a $5,700 discrepancy in the team’s travel budget, leading to the resignation of head coach Rick Gamez on Oct. 1. In response to the incident, Athletic Director Bill Moos ordered an audit of all athletic teams? travel expenses.

The audit that uncovered the reimbursements was compiled during a six-month period earlier this year and concluded that the University needs to do a better job controlling and keeping track of how its employees spend public funds and public donations.

Audit administrator Jim Pitts, who originally filed the complaints, said it was unlikely that any more complaints would come out of this audit. He added that while it was standard procedure for the state Audit Division to do follow-up audits in these situations, no further audit of the University has been planned.