June 8 2010, 9:58 AM
Last month, 7News reported on the profligate spending habits of board members at Pinnacol Assurance, the state-staffed workers' compensation company, including a trip to the swanky Pebble Beach, California, golf resort. Now, an official state audit formally criticizes the large bonuses, travel perks, and golden parachutes given to top execs at Pinnacol, writes 7News. Pinnacol paid $1.9 million in bonuses to head honchos between 2007 and 2009, and its board approved $4.3 million in compensation last September for higher-ups removed from their jobs---a measure to protect them amid legislative uncertainty. So far, the feedback isn't good. "I think there is some tightening down that needs to be done," says state Senator David Schultheis, the Colorado Springs Republican who chairs the Legislative Audit Committee. The bonuses, according to the audit, are higher than any state agency, and travel expenses bordered "on abuse" (via the Denver Business Journal). State auditors have deemed 75 percent of entertainment and travel expenses, including some alcohol purchases, in violation of Pinnacol's own policies on what should be reimbursable, including several instances with multiple violations. Pinnacol's president and CEO, Ken Ross (pictured), responds that the quasi-governmental agency is taking action to correct problems identified in the audit. Pinnacol avoided tighter regulations during the most recent state legislative session, but failed to convince the state to accept $300 million in exchange for turning it into a private entity.