PULLMAN – A state ethics board fined a Washington State University scuba diving instructor $1,000 for selling and renting equipment to students through his private company.
Barry Moore had taught WSU’s scuba course since 1978. The fine by the state Executive Ethics Board follows a yearlong investigation by the state auditor’s office.
The investigation determined that Moore violated conflict-of-interest laws that prohibit state employees from having a private financial interest in their work.
Moore’s business practices were “incompatible with his public duty,” and the university gave him an inappropriate “special privilege” by providing a room to store his company’s scuba equipment, the board said in a statement.
WSU’s scuba program, a for-credit physical education class, was discontinued last year following the investigation. Moore, who is also a professor in WSU’s School of the Environment, took over the program in the early 1980s. He later formed the company, Clearwater Scuba LLC, because the university’s equipment was in poor condition and the program director hadn’t been able to find money to replace it. WSU officials said they tried to find another vendor but ultimately approved a contract with Clearwater.
The fine initially totalled $1,500, but the board suspended $500. In a statement, the board pointed some of the blame at the university. It said Moore “sought and received guidance from WSU management and the WSU Attorneys General from the very beginning of his involvement with the WSU Scuba Program and the creation of his outside personal business.”
The auditor’s office also found that Moore misrepresented competitors’ prices in course materials distributed to students, and that he failed to inform students he owned Clearwater Scuba. The ethics board’s decision does not address those allegations.
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