FAIRBANKS - Jim Hayes, who was indicted this month on federal charges including theft and money laundering, has been asked by Gov. Sarah Palin to give up his position on the University of Alaska Board of Regents.
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Palin first made the request through her Chief of Staff Mike Tibbles, according to Sharon Leighow, the governor's deputy press secretary.
"That was followed up by a phone call by Governor Sarah Palin herself who requested Regent Hayes step down, and again, it was my understanding, that he said no," Leighow told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.
Hayes did not respond to requests for comment.
Hayes, and his wife, Chris, have been indicted by a federal grand jury on 92 counts of money laundering, theft and conspiracy. They are accused of misusing $450,000 in federal money meant for LOVE Social Services, a youth center directed by Chris Hayes. Jim Hayes, a former Fairbanks mayor, serves on the center's board of directors.
"This legal issue surrounding Jim Hayes has left a dark cloud over the university," Leighow said. "The governor wants that cloud lifted and hopes he will step down for the benefit of the University of Alaska."
The governor, who appoints regents to the 11-member board, does not have the power to remove Hayes. A regent can only be removed by a two-thirds majority vote in both houses of the Legislature. Several legislators, including Sen. Gene Therriault, R-North Pole and Rep. David Guttenberg, D-Fairbanks, said they believe Hayes should consider stepping down, but stopped short of endorsing official Legislative action.
Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Fairbanks, said he was not aware of formal efforts among legislators to remove Hayes.
"I think everyone's just trying to wait for Jim to do the right thing," Kelly said.
Student newspapers at both the Fairbanks and Anchorage campuses have printed editorials calling for Hayes to resign or be removed. But student union presidents at UAF and UAA, said they would not call for Hayes' resignation or removal until a trial determines his guilt.
The Hayeses are scheduled to be arraigned in federal court Friday.
Hayes' term on the University of Alaska Board of Regents ends in 2011.
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