Tom Thornton’s contract as president of the Kansas Bioscience Authority shows a total pay, bonus and benefit package potentially worth more than $463,200 for fiscal year 2010.
That’s more than four times Governor Sam Brownback’s $99,636 salary and $63,200 more than President Barack Obama’s salary.
Media reports pegged Thornton’s pay and bonus at about $365,000, but a copy of his contract obtained through multiple sources by KansasWatchdog shows several incentive opportunities and a full breakdown of benefits.
Thornton resigned April 15 after disclosure of an investigation into KBA by the Johnson County District Attorney and criticism from Governor Sam Brownback and others about high salaries and other practices.
An appendix to the contract details objectives that could add as much as $159,000 in incentive compensation to $265,000 in annual compensation and more than $32,200 in benefits stipulated in the contract.
Under terms of the contract Thornton also received a partial year bonus for Oct. 1, 2009, through June 30, 2010, of up to $93,750, 37.5 percent of his FY2010 base pay of $250,000, based on a review by KBA’s executive committee.
Rep. Charlotte O’Hara, R-Overland Park, who obtained a copy of the contract from Legislative Research, said Thornton’s contract was “breathtaking” for the amount of total compensation.
O’Hara also said she is concerned about the combination of government and private interests in a government organization that is exempted from oversight. “I think there needs to be a much more clear delineation between government and private enterprise.”
Thornton’s contract also addresses duties, disclosure rules, penalties and a termination policy including separation pay. The contract promises six months pay plus 50 percent of the potential bonus if Thornton died or was terminated without cause. Thornton’s resignation appears to meet neither of those requirements.
Thornton’s base compensation could be increased but not decreased under terms of the annual contract, “to reflect comparable market-based compensation for a chief executive officer of a comparable organization.”
Thornton was eligible for two “incentive opportunities.” The first, 42 percent of base compensation or $111,300, is based on his efforts to “promote and support KBA strategic and operational goals.”
The incentive plan says, “It is not anticipated that KBA will necessarily achieve 100 percent achievement of these action items, and the 42 percent incentive opportunity is not dependent on 100 percent achievement.”
A second incentive opportunity, up to 18 percent of base compensation, $47,700, is tied to three specific goals, each worth up to 6 percent of base compensation.
Securing construction funding for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) would garner up to 6 percent depending on the level of funding secured: 2 percent for $20 – $30 million, 4 percent for $30 – $40 million, 6 percent for at least $40 million.
Another six percent incentive was pegged to initiating NBAF research at the Biosecurity Research Institute (BRI). BRI is a bio-containment research and training facility for infectious disease research on plant, animal, and human health.
The third 6 percent incentive is tied to Kansas’ ranking as a “bioscience powerhouse” as evidenced by the annual Business Facilities Magazine rankings (PDF). Kansas jumped from 9th to 5th place in the ranking published in July 2010.
Law Allows KBA to Spend Tax Dollars and Blocks Public Access (kanssawatchdog.org)
Eisenhower’s Other Warning (kanssawatchdog.org)
KS Bioscience hires forensic auditor (kansasreporter.org)
Kansas Bioscience exec resigns, critics want further probe (kansasreporter.org)
Wagle strongly critical of bioscience (kansas.com)
Kansas Open Records Act (sunshinereview.org)
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