Former Evergreen State College professor fined for conduct involving international study program
OLYMPIA – A former Evergreen State College professor has received the largest penalty ever imposed by the board that polices ethical lapses by state employees.
Today the Washington State Executive Ethics Board announced that it signed an order fining Jorge Gilbert $119,578, including $9,900 in restitution for the college, for multiple violations of the Ethics in Public Service Act.
As an instructor at The Evergreen State College (TESC), Gilbert offered courses on South American history, politics and economics. His program featured a trip to Chile.
The Ethics Board received a referral from the State Auditor in July 2009 alleging that Gilbert, while an employee with TESC, may have misappropriated public funds, entered into contracts on behalf of the college with a company owned by his family members, received financial gain from his position as a state employee and used state resources to benefit himself and his family members. The allegations were based on Gilbert’s use of a family business to book travel for the overseas trip.
Ethics Board staff investigated the matter and held an administrative hearing. Based on the evidence presented, the Board concluded that the undisputed facts – Gilbert did not appear at the hearing – showed that he violated five statutes within the Ethics in Public Service Act.
By directing his students to make payments for the international study program to his personal bank accounts, or accounts under his control, and by accepting payments from those students, Gilbert violated two statutes, RCWs 42.52.020 and 42.52.030, barring state employees from having a financial interest in state government business.
Other violations of the same statutes occurred when Gilbert:
- Ignored college procedures requiring obtaining waivers for all students travelling abroad, placing the students at risk.
- Entered into contracts regarding the study abroad program offered through the TESC without the college’s permission or knowledge.
- Deposited student funds directly into his personal bank accounts contrary to college policy and benefitting him financially. Each of the violations regarding the receipt of student funds is a separate violation of RCW 42.52.030.
Further, when Gilbert entered into contracts with companies owned or managed by family members and did not comply with contracting requirements of TESC, he violated an ethics law barring state employees from using their positions to obtain special privileges for themselves or family members.
The Ethics Board met on March 31. The next scheduled meeting will occur on July 8.
Executive Ethics Board 2010 Annual Report (PDF
Janelle Guthrie, Director of Communications, (360) 586-0725