The Iowa State Auditor’s Office says a former Iowa State University employee collected more than $324,000 that should have gone to the university.
A special investigation was requested by university officials into the Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation(CALT) after concerns were raised about the center’s former director, Roger McEowen. McEowen worked for the university from 2004 until he resigned in January of 2016.
The report by the Auditor’s Office says while McEowen worked for Iowa State he also had a consulting business, McEowen, PLC. The university requires employees to disclose businesses that may provide a conflict of interest, which McEowen did – but university officials said his disclosure was not specific enough to determine that the services his business provided were essentially the same services performed by the CALT. The university noted a follow-up was necessary in 2011 but did not follow through with it.
The executive director of university relations says the reason it took university several years to file an audit is because, "the conflict of interest report wasn’t very complete and did not provide a lot of information about it the extent of his private business," says John McCarroll.
McCarroll adds the the university's conflict of interest policy will need to be revamped.
The report found $324,816.68 in diverted collections and improper and unsupported disbursements between April of 2009 and December of 2015. The $280,170.83 in diverted collections included roughly $278,000 in payments for speaking at seminars without reporting vacation from CALT, and for which he used CALT materials. The rest of the diverted collections were attributed to speaking fees at CALT sponsored seminars and the sale of McEowen’s textbook.
Improper disbursements of $43,612.93 were identified as excess vacation costs and improper vacation payout, payments for days McEowen presented at seminars and conferences without representing CALT, and travel costs expensed to the university.
Another $1,032.92 was discovered in unsupported disbursements for travel reimbursed by the university.
The report has been filed with several agencies including the Iowa Board of Regents, the Division of Criminal Investigation, and the Attorney General’s Office. University officials say they will wait once all the agencies investigations are completed before deciding to seek financial reimbursement.