Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Indicted University of Alaska Regent Jim Hayes No-Showed Six Regents Meetings In 2006-7

An indicted University of Alaska regent who has refused to resign missed 44 percent of meetings last year and both full board meetings this year. According to meeting minutes, Jim Hayes (pictured at left courtesy of Anchorage Daily News) missed four meetings last year, when Federal authorities were investigating him. Hayes, who is also a former mayor of Fairbanks, was indicted in January on Federal fraud and money laundering charges. Full story published in the Anchorage Daily News. Additional story on KTUU Channel 2. Additional posts on this issue on January 18th and January 27th.

UA spokeswoman Kate Ripley said Hayes missed four out of nine full board meetings. Since being indicted, Hayes has missed both 2007 regent meetings. In all, he's missed more than 30 votes during that time.

According to a review of minutes by the Sun Star, the campus newspaper of the University of Alaska-Fairbanks (UAF), Hayes had the poorest record of attendance in 2006, with four missed meetings. Regents Carl Marrs and Robert Martin each missed two meetings and were late to a third. Regents Frances Rose, Jacob Gondek and Joseph Usibelli missed two.

"(Hayes) was absent for the Aug. 8 audio briefing," Ripley said. "It's a summer audio meeting they have. He wasn't there for that, he wasn't at the Kodiak meeting in June 2006. And he was not at the April 2006 meeting in Nome and Kotzebue, but a number of them weren't at that meeting." Hayes also missed a Jan. 20-21, 2006 board retreat in Anchorage, according to meeting minutes. The FBI raided his house 10 days earlier.

In 2007, Hayes has missed both meetings -- another January retreat in Anchorage and a February full board meeting in Juneau. Hayes attributed missing the February meeting to his wife's health.

Hayes told the Sun Star a different story. "My attendance has been pretty good, and all my absences have been called in. I think I only missed one meeting last year," Hayes said. "I'd rather be there, but with my wife's illness and doctor's appointments, I'm not always able to make it," Hayes explained further.

Hayes and his wife, Chris, were indicted on federal fraud and money laundering charges. They are accused of misusing $450,000 in federal money meant for LOVE Social Services, a youth center directed by Chris Hayes. Jim Hayes, a former Fairbanks mayor, serves on the center's board of directors.

A grand jury returned an indictment against the couple in January, charging Chris Hayes with 92 counts and Jim Hayes with 23 counts of money laundering and unlawful diversion of Federal grant money. Both pleaded not guilty earlier this month, and trial has been set for April 9th.

Click HERE to view the 27-page indictment in PDF format.

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, several Fairbanks-area lawmakers, the Anchorage Daily News, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, and the student newspapers at UAA and UAF have ALL called on Hayes to resign his position, primarily because his indictment will hamper his ability to function as a regent and could bring the University of Alaska system into disrepute. Hayes has refused to resign and intends to serve out the remainder of his term, which expires in 2011.

The Alaska State Constitution apparently bans Governor Sarah Palin from summarily removing Hayes or any other UA regent from the board. The State Legislature can remove a regent by an impeachment vote with a two-thirds majority in both Houses.

Commentary: Hayes' indictment not only calls the integrity of his stewardship into question, but is now clearly interfering with his ability to function as a regent. If he persistently cannot or will not show up at the Regents' Meetings, he is unfit for the job. It's time for the State Legislature to act.

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