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In 2005, the Department of Homeland Security announced plans to replace the old Plum Island Animal Disease Center off Long Island with a facility on the U.S. mainland to study Foot and Mouth Disease and other dangerous pathogens. Kansas won the job in 2008, with a site on the campus of Kansas State University in Manhattan.But today, more than three years later, the proposed $1.14 billion National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility faces funding obstacles, safety questions, rising costs and political fallout. For Kansas and the Midwest, the stakes couldn’t be higher.Here you’ll find coverage and updates from Harvest Public Media, KCUR and Kansas Public Media.

Kansas Bioscience Authority Cleared Of Criminal Charges


The Kansas Bioscience Authority and its former President and CEO Tom Thornton will not face any criminal charges over inappropriate use of state tax dollars.

That’s according to a statement released this morning by the Johnson County District Attorney’s office.

The D.A.’s office reviewed both internal and external audits of the KBA over the last 15 months.

It concluded that thousands of dollars in travel and personal expenses were inappropriately charged to the state-funded agency,  but that there was not enough evidence to warrant criminal charges. DA Steve Howe added that Kansas taxpayers could be offended that the agency acted like a private company, but under the circumstances there still is not enough evidence for a prosecution.

The  D.A. said that because the management and board of the KBA signed off on the charges, prosecution was "virtually impossible."

The KBA is funded by the Kansas Economic Growth Act http://www.kansasbioauthority.org/about_the_kba/KEGA_090507.pdf with $580 million in withholdings from  employees of bioscience -related companies.

The Kansas legislature called for the audits in the wake of questions about KBA spending of taxpayer dollars.

The audits revealed spending for, among other things, travel, lavish hotels and meals for lobbying, including lobbying for the top-security animal disease lab known as NBAF,  slated to be build on the Kansas State campus in  Manhattan, Kansas.

KBA chairman David Vranicar said in an interview that the agency had put in a number of safeguards, e.g. stricter oversight and accountability, to ensure against similiar  book keeping problems don't happen again.  He said the agency was moving forward and focusing on enhancing the biosciences in the state.


I partner with communities to uncover the ignored or misrepresented stories by listening and letting communities help identify and shape a narrative. My work brings new voices, sounds, and an authentic sense of place to our coverage of the Kansas City region. My goal is to tell stories on the radio, online, on social media and through face to face conversations that enhance civic dialogue and provide solutions. Email me at lauraz@kcur.org and follow me on Twitter @laurazig.
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