KBA CEO resigns

Tom Thornton, the embattled chief executive of the Kansas Bioscience Authority, submitted his letter of immediate resignation on Friday.

Thornton's resignation comes shortly after a criminal investigation looking into the KBA’s business affairs was launched by the Johnson County District Attorney’s office, CJOnline.com reports. Some of the allegations the agency is facing include the misappropriation of state funds, highlighted by concerns over staff salaries and bonuses, as well as excessive spending on business travel.

Thornton, who allegedly pocketed a $100,000 bonus, was responsible for leading KBA’s day-to-day investment program.

In light of the allegations, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback recently demanded that the KBA to submit a comprehensive audit. Brownback hopes that with a transition of power, the KBA will be more cooperative during the investigative process.   

"There is too much at stake for KBA to continue to refuse this legitimate scrutiny of how the authority spends hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars,” Brownback said, according to CJOnline.com.  

David Vranicar, president of the authority’s Heartland BioVentures division, was named interim president and CEO of the Olathe, Kansas-based authority, CJOnline.com reports.

Founded in 2004, the KBA receives $35 million annually for a total of $580 million in state aid to assist in developing cutting-edge research in the biosciences.