ISU slipped previously undisclosed airplane spending onto "FAQ" page

Pro tip: Promising to "be as open and transparent as possible" works better when you don’t keep concealing relevant facts from the public.

Iowa State University linked incomplete and redacted files on its page for "Frequently Asked Questions" about President Steven Leath’s use of university-owned airplanes. Staff employed several methods to prevent outsiders from obtaining information about the flights. In an October 22 editorial, the Des Moines Register described the "clumsy response" by ISU and Leath as "every bit as damaging to the university’s reputation as the original offense."

I would add a few other points to the Register’s list. For instance, ISU quadrupled down on a cover story that makes no sense in order to explain questionable stops on one of Leath’s trips.

In addition, university officials quietly admitted in recent days that ISU’s Foundation spent much more than previously disclosed on one of the airplanes purchased in 2014.

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State auditor and Board of Regents looking more deeply into ISU airplane use

Iowa State University President Steven Leath continues to insist his use of university aircraft violated no policies or laws.

We’ll learn more in the coming months, because the State Auditor’s Office is looking into the matter, and yesterday the Iowa Board of Regents approved a plan to audit every ISU Flight Service flight since Leath was hired in 2012.

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If ISU pilots chose to land at Elmira, it wasn't for cheap fuel

Iowa State University finally released its aviation insurance policy and some other documents related to President Steven Leath’s use of university-owned aircraft on October 12, a week after Leath promised to be "open and transparent" about the controversy.

While I work my way through those incomplete materials, let’s take a closer look at one of the least plausible narratives ISU has floated in connection with this scandal: en route to and from an NCAA Sweet Sixteen basketball game in March 2014, pilots of the university’s King Air 350 200 "unilaterally decided" to refuel at the Elmira Corning Regional Airport in Horseheads, New York. The stops supposedly chosen by the pilots allowed Leath’s brother and sister-in-law to hitch a ride at no additional cost to ISU.

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Coward Chris Hagenow running false personal attack against Jennifer Konfrst

Iowa House Majority Leader Chris Hagenow has plenty of reasons to worry about being re-elected in House district 43. During the last presidential election year, he won his race by fewer than two dozen votes, and the district has fewer registered Republicans now than it did in November 2012. His well-qualified challenger Jennifer Konfrst has been working hard, and Democrats in the district have submitted nearly 1,000 more absentee ballot requests than have Republicans.

Hagenow didn’t run any positive television commercials during the 2012 election cycle and only started airing a misleading ad against his opponent in late October.

In contrast, a few weeks ago the majority leader went up with a bizarro world tv ad portraying himself as an advocate for education. That spot was ludicrous on several levels, as Bleeding Heartland discussed here and Iowa Starting Line chronicled here. Hagenow has been part of a leadership team that for several years in a row ignored Iowa law on setting K-12 education funding. He and his fellow House Republicans have repeatedly refused to appropriate enough money to help school districts keep up with rising costs. Although Hagenow postures as a supporter of preschool in his tv ad, he voted to eliminate the state preschool program in early 2011. Furthermore, because House Republicans insisted on only a small increase in K-12 school funding this year, the West Des Moines school district (where most of Hagenow’s constituents live) cut its 3-year-old preschool program.

But as deceptive as Hagenow’s positive ad is, the hit piece he started running against Konfrst on October 5 is even more mendacious.

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ISU's cover story on President Leath's airplane use is falling apart

Iowa State University’s contention that President Steven Leath never violated university policy on using state property for personal gain is looking increasingly implausible. Leath tried last week to end the controversy over his piloting adventures, saying he had done nothing wrong but would not fly the university’s Cirrus SR22 anymore "to allay any future concerns."

However, Ryan Foley reported today for the Associated Press that some of Leath’s flights on the university’s larger King Air 350 "potentially violate policies that require travel expenses to be reasonable and business-related."

The new revelations not only call into question Leath’s compliance, but could also raise red flags for the Internal Revenue Service about "excess benefit transactions" by ISU’s Foundation.

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