Audit Questions Purchase and Use of Plane by ISU Under Steven Leath

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AMES, Iowa  —  This week Iowa State University announced its next president but the controversy surrounding the school’s previous leader remains.

On Tuesday the State Auditor’s Office released its review of ISU’s air travel program under former president Steven Leath.  Leath, a licensed pilot, seriously damaged a university owned plane during a rough landing while returning from a trip to North Carolina.  The school did not report the damage for insurance reimbursement and paid for repairs out of a general fund.  Leath later repaid that money to the school but questions about his use of the plane remained.

According the report from the State Auditor questions about the flight program at the school began with the purchase of the plane Leath was flying.  The audit notes that the school did not get written approval from the Executive Director of the Iowa Board of Regents before buying the plane.  Board policy requires that written consent for major purchases.  The audit does indicate that the Executive Director was aware of the purchase.

The audit also calls into question the accounting of the purpose of use of the plane.  Leath admittedly used the plane for both ISU business and personal reasons during trips.  The audit finds the school did not properly account for when the plane was used for each different purpose and if Leath repaid the school fully for private use.

The audit finally calls into question why the school purchased the plane in the first place.  Over the three years the school owned the plane it was used for just 88 hours.  All of those hours were under the control of Leath.