U-District

State: UW workers paid overtime while reading celebrity gossip

State: UW workers paid overtime while reading celebrity gossip »Play Video
SEATTLE -- A recent ruling from the State Ethics Board found that two University of Washington employees violated rules when it came to personal use of state resources.

The board looked through their Internet browser history and found that the employees were paid overtime while they were browsing the web for celebrity gossip and sports news.

College students sometimes get to bend or even break the rules, but state employees do not.

"So it seemed to me that it was an inappropriate use of overtime if they were getting paid to surf the Internet," said Melanie Deleon, the director of the State Ethics Board.

Deleon recently released a massive report detailing the questionable practices at the University of Washington's Fire Alarm Technician Department.

"A lot of the time, it looked like they were surfing the Internet on days where they got paid overtime," she said.

KOMO had already reported on the two workers, Stan Ross and Don Hulse. The men took home tens of thousands of dollars extra each of the last few years, thanks to increased overtime pay.

Deleon said she isn't happy with what taxpayers got in return.

"When a person is basically an hourly employee but they get overtime, and they're using that overtime to surf the Internet, to me, that's more egregious," she said.

Ethics Board records show that one day Hulse surfed the web for nearly five hours and spent the bulk of that time on sports websites, all while collecting overtime pay.

Don Stephens initially came to the Problem Solvers to blow the whistle on his own workers.

"I tend to believe that if I screwed around for four hours of my eight hour day, I would be in trouble," he said.

Stephens has read the Ethics Board's report and said he's disappointed in his university.

"I didn't think it was going to be as bad as what I actually saw," he said.

On a day when Ross was given two hours of overtime, the board found he spent nearly half that time browsing a website for the television show "Access Hollywood." He spent time looking at star sightings, checking out Eric Clapton's back catalog and browsing up-and-coming teen stars, according to the report.

Another day on overtime, the board said Ross was "viewing images of Bruce Jenner and the Kardashian children."

The browser history shows pictures of Khloe Kardashian's blog and a few that reference Kardashian bikini shots.

"We were convinced that the overtime was legitimate and necessary and it was done properly," said UW spokesman Norm Arkans.

Arkans also said surfing the web while getting overtime is another story.

"This is inappropriate use of the internet and resources," he said.

Despite that, Arkans said the two employees haven't been disciplined yet. He doesn't want this to happen again and wants the rest of the University to know the rules can't be broken.

"You can't do that under our state ethics laws," he said.

The university will not taken any disciplinary action until the workers either settle with the Ethics Board or fight the findings. There should be a decision later this month.