Special Reports

Airport board advanced Gobb $10,000

The board that oversees Blue Grass Airport gave former airport executive director Michael Gobb a $10,000 advance in July, the same month that he requested a leave of absence because of a "serious health condition."

"That was to help him with his health expenses," said David Stevens, who was a member of the airport board at the time. "I don't know if the board approved that proactively or retroactively. That was a pretty hectic time."

Stevens said he thought Gobb needed the money at the time and that the loan was made with the anticipation that it would be repaid.

"We have requested repayment," Blue Grass Airport attorney Thomas Halbleib said Friday. "It has not been repaid."

Gobb, who resigned from his job last week because of questions about his expenses, was making nearly $220,000 a year and the airport provided him with health insurance.

He was suspended and then resigned after articles in the Herald-Leader revealed that Gobb spent more than $200,000 in a little more than two years on travel and other expenses.

State Auditor Crit Luallen, who is conducting an audit of the airport's finances, has alerted law enforcement authorities to her investigation of the expenditures, saying that, while she has no evidence of criminal activity, she is "appalled" at some of the examples that already have been made public.

Gobb requested the medical leave on July 19 and was off work for about six weeks, returning to his job after Labor Day. Neither he nor airport officials have commented publicly about the medical problem.

Airport credit card billing statements indicate that Gobb, his wife, Kristina Gobb, and Brian Ellestad, the airport's director of marketing and community relations, flew from Lexington to Tucson, Ariz., on the same day that Gobb requested a medical leave.

A $455 one-way ticket to Tucson on July 19 for Gobb was charged on Ellestad's airport credit card. Round-trip tickets for Ellestad and Kristina Gobb were also charged on Ellestad's card, the total for the two coming to $2,626.

Airport records indicate that the three spent the night in Tucson and rented a car.

Halbleib declined to discuss the purpose of the trip.

Gobb, who is in Hawaii with his family for a conference of airport executives, could not be reached for comment.

His attorney, William Rambicure, could not be reached for comment.