Visit May Have Violated State Constitution
Both the State Auditor and the Attorney General offices have launched reviews of a $65,000 golf junket to Scotland by the University of New Mexico’s athletic department that included Athletic Director Paul Krebs, UNM employees and donors.
Both reviews are centered on whether UNM violated the state Constitution’s anti-donation clause, which bars governments from giving gifts to private citizens and whether anyone violated the state’s Government Conduct Act.
Critics have said the 2015 trip should have been paid for by the university’s independent fundraising arm, and not the athletic department.
State Auditor Tim Keller said the inquiry into the spending has been going on for at least three weeks and that once the results are finalized they will be made public. He said the review might take until the end of the summer. He said that both probes will look at whether Krebs and UNM vio0lated the anti-donation clause an whether anyone at the school violated the state’s Governmet Conduct Act.
The Albuquerque Journal reported Thursday that New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas sent a letter to UNM saying he had opened a probe into the matter. The newspaper quoted the letter as saying, “it is clear by his public admission that actions taken by Vice President Krebs are contrary to the high ethical standards he and all university officials must uphold and implicate violations of the GCA [Government Conduct Act].”
The AP reported that UNM President Chaouki Abdallah said Wednesday that UNM will cooperate with auditor Tim Keller’s office. The news agency also reported that UNM Athletics Department spokesman Frank Mercogliano said the department and Krebs, who was out of town and unavailable for comment Wednesday, would cooperate with the review.
The Albuquerque Journal also reported that UNM is considering disciplinary action against Krebs.
According to the AP, the golf trip cost about $39,000 for Krebs, former men’s basketball coach Craig Neal and Lobo Club executive director Kole McKamey. UNM, however, didn’t say what it paid for the private donors to attend the trip. And the school initially characterized the trip as a basketball tournament in Ireland.
The AP reported that Abdallah told an Albuquerque TV station that Krebs came to him and acknowledged that UNM picked up the tab for the boosters.
“This is not where university funds should be spent,” Abdallah told KRQE TV. “I want the public to know that in the future we will not be using university funds for such activities.”