By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily
Using private donations, the University of Wyoming spent nearly $38,000 on tickets, dinners and gifts for elected officials in three years.
According to documents from the secretary of state’s office, the university’s lobbyist Meredith Asay gifted about $37,572 in sporting events tickets, dinners, events and small gift bags to Wyoming public servants from autumn 2017 to the spring of 2020.
The money for the gifts all came from donations to the university’s foundation, UW spokesman Chad Baldwin told Cowboy State Daily.
“We’re not using state block grant funding for any of this,” he said.
Dinners, tours and events were responsible for the biggest share of the expense at $17,113, including the University of Wyoming “Legislator’s Day” and legislative dinners and facility tours at various locations.
Football tickets came in second for expense, with $14,612 in football tickets given over the three years to various legislators and executive-branch elected officials, the governor’s staff and their guests.
Cheyenne Frontier Days rodeo tickets, catering, and legislators’ gifts totaled $3,355.
Basketball-related favors cost the university the least, at $2,492 over the three years.
“For a public university like ours, it’s important to have strong relationships with policymakers,” said Baldwin. “And that’s very much in line with what similar universities do when it comes to gifts for legislators and others.”
Baldwin said generally, there’s a “widespread offer for legislators who want to come to ball games.”