NDSU Misleading Legislative Council About Use Of State-Owned Airplanes?
We here at Say Anything are fond of pointing out NDSU’s abuse of the university’s private plane. Even as school officials complain to the legislature about being underfunded, they spend tens of thousands of dollars per month on flights in the state. The hypocrisy is astounding.
Recently the legislature, through legislative council, performed a study into the use of state-owned aircraft. When they asked NDSU for details on use of the university’s plane, officials claimed that they were exempt from the study because the plane wasn’t owned by the university but rather the NDSU foundation.
Except, as PlainsDaily.com uncovered, if the plane is owned by the foundation nobody told the FAA about it:
BISMARCK, ND – In what could be construed as an effort to avoid public and legislative scrutiny, NDSU appears to have provided legislative council financial analyst Brady Larson with false information regarding the ownership of NDSU’s private Beech King Air twin engine plane.
NDSU told Larson in an email that the school did not actually own the airplane frequently used by President Dean Bresciani and others, but that NDSU leased it from the school’s private foundation.
During the interim session, the Government Services Committee is tasked with conducting a study of state-owned airplane usage, as provided for in Section 13 of HB 1012, the Department of Transportation budget bill.
Not questioning the integrity of the requested information provided to him by NDSU, Larson proceeded to include the following information in the background memorandum for the committee’s July 15, 2011 meeting:
North Dakota State University does not own any aircraft but leases a King Air B200 airplane from the North Dakota State University Development Foundation for passenger transportation purposes.
However, the FAA Aircraft registration clearly lists the university itself as the owner. In addition, the registration papers show the plane as being “government” owned and operated – not corporately owned, as would be the case with the NDSU Development Foundation – and lists the university, not the foundation’s, post office box number.
When legislative council was contacted about the inconsistency, he was apparently “taken aback.” But NDSU continues to insist that the foundation owns the plane and they merely list it, though so far they’ve been unable to produce any evidence of this arrangement:
Even after being provided with a copy of the FAA registration details, NDSU spokesperson Laura McDaniels said that while she does not understand why the registration would list something differently, “I know for a fact that we did not provide false information to Legislative Council, and that the Foundation does indeed own the aircraft.”
A search of the 2009-2011 NDSU payments to the NDSU Development Foundation on the state’s Office of Management and Budget’s searchable payments database does not reveal any lease payments for the aircraft, so PlainsDaily also asked NDSU for more detail on the specifics of the lease agreement and copies of the check requisitions for the lease payments.
McDaniels told PlainsDaily that the lease payments were not made directly to the NDSU Development Foundation, but to a different company that held the lease.
Supposedly the the administrator in charge of the airplane account is in the hospital but can prove that the plane is merely leased by NDSU. But whether the plane is leased by the university, or is owned by the university, the amount of money spent flying university around the state is atrocious especially given how often those same officials whine about funding shortages.
There are plenty of companies who move personnel around the state. They don’t use private planes because, quite frankly, it’s not at all cost effective. But the university system does, because here in North Dakota we do nothing but throw money at them to the point where citizens of this state spend more tax dollars per capita on higher education than any other state in the nation.
Earlier this year NDSU President Dean Bresciani was threatening to cut core academic services if his university didn’t get more money. The fact that Bresciani would rank those services above cutting his access to the university’s private plane is telling.
Update: A reader who also happens to be a pilot writes, “There is NO WAY that registration for the King Air could have been a mistake. FAA aircraft registration is a very deliberate process. If it says NDSU and Government, that is what was submitted originally.”Tags: dean bresciani, North Dakota News, north dakota state university