Originally published June 1, 2010 at 03:39p.m., updated June 1, 2010 at 04:10p.m.
Questions are arising whether Kansas University Athletic Director Lew Perkins violated a state ethics law that prohibits government employees from accepting many types of loans or gifts.
Because a portion of Perkins’ salary is paid using state funds, he likely is subject to a state law that places restrictions on what types of items he can receive from the public, said Carol Williams, the director of the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission.
The questions have emerged after the former co-owner of a medical equipment company said he “loaned” Perkins about $15,000 worth of exercise equipment at no cost to Perkins.
Williams declined to specifically address Perkins’ situation because her office would be responsible for any investigation into whether Perkins had violated the state law. But Williams said individuals who receive even a portion of their salary from state funds likely are covered by the law.
In 2009 — when Perkins allegedly had the equipment in his possession — he received $194,011 of his $900,000 salary from state funds, according to a previous statement from KU spokeswoman Lynn Bretz.
Williams said that “generically speaking” a person receiving nearly $195,000 in compensation from state funds would be subject to the state law. She said the law has a clear purpose.
“The rationale behind the statute being enacted in 1997 at the request of Governor Graves is he wanted state employees to be above reproach, and to give citizens a secure feeling that state employees are working for the citizens’ best interests,” Williams said.
The state law specifies that violating the ethics provisions is grounds for termination, although that decision is left up to the supervisor of the employee. The law also allows for the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission to fine an employee up to $5,000 for violating the provisions.
A key provision of the law — KSA 46-237a — states “no person subject to the provisions of this section shall solicit or accept any gift, economic opportunity, loan, gratuity, special discount or service provided because of such person’s official position.”
Citing department policy, Williams declined to comment whether her office would launch an investigation into the matter.
Perkins, when reached Tuesday during a break at the Big 12 Conference meetings in Kansas City, Mo., said he could not discuss the matter and referred questions to his attorney.
“I’m the victim here,” Perkins said. “The facts are not what they appear. When I have the ability to talk, I will.”
Perkins’ attorney Steve McAllister said Perkins does not believe he has violated the ethics law but has asked the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission to investigate the matter.
“Mr. Perkins would just rather make sure everything is above board, and so that already has been reported over there,” McAllister said. “We have referred it to them and it is in their hands.”
Allegations of Perkins being loaned exercise equipment came to light after Perkins filed a police report alleging that a former athletic department staff member was blackmailing him over the matter. That former employee, William Dent, has since alleged in a published report in the Topeka Capital-Journal, that Perkins helped the owners of the equipment company secure premium men’s basketball tickets.
Mark Glass, a co-owner of the former Medical Outfitters company, has denied those allegations, and said his company did not seek or receive special consideration for KU basketball tickets.
Journal-World reporter Mark Fagan and sports editor Tom Keegan contributed to this report.