Utah state veterinarian resigns after controversy
Bruce L. King, DVM, steps down amidst probe into allegations of misconduct brought by a former employee.
Utah’s chief state veterinarian, Bruce L. King, DVM, resigned June 1 after an investigation into allegations from a former employee accusing him of earning extra money by working on the side and other questionable practices, according to the Standard Examiner of Ogden, Utah.
After J. Wyatt Frampton, DVM, MPH, sent the letter to the governor's office in March 2014, state auditors launched what amounted to a two-month investigation. Frampton worked as one of three field veterinarians supervised by King and Hess, before his termination in September 2013.
In his letter, Frampton alleges, among other things, that King—who oversaw meatpacking, slaughter and livestock inspections as the state veterinarian—was padding his income through a four-year contract to provide veterinary services to the horses passing through the wild horse ranch at the state prison. The contract, through the Bureau of Land Management, is thought to have provided him $2,000 or more a month on top of his state veterinary salary of $96,000.
Frampton also says King took advantage of a state-provided car and used his state credit card for gas for essentially his entire career with the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF). King was provided a state car when he was hired as a field inspector in 1998, according to the Examiner.King did not move to Salt Lake City from his home in Axtell when he was appointed assistant state veterinarian in 2006 or in 2011 when appointed state veterinarian, opting instead to commute, using the state car and state credit card for fuel.
The investigation ended with King’s resignation, concluding a 15-year career with the UDAF. Warren Hess, DVM, is now the acting state veterinarian.
Also in March 2014, State Rep. Ronda Menlove (R) sponsored the State Veterinarian Amendments bill after she was approached by constituents who were concerned about the state veterinarian’s office competing for private contracts against businesses the state regulates, according to the Examiner. Effective May 13, the practice of the state veterinarian hiring him or herself out for private veterinary work—directly in competition with private veterinary practitioners—is illegal under HB 309. The bill details the state veterinarian’s responsibilities and says that the position, appointed by the Commissioner of Agriculture …"may not receive compensation for services provided while engaging in the private practice of veterinary medicine.”