Azziz seeks independent review of use of GRU resources at family wedding

Georgia Regents University President Ricardo Azziz has asked the state university system to conduct an independent review of the use of state resources for a family wedding held at his home.

Azziz asked University System of Georgia Chancellor Hank Huckaby for an “impartial assessment” of the issues and actions connected with the Saturday wedding, which was held for his niece at the president’s home at 920 Milledge Road.

“Due to the questions raised around use of university resources in conjunction with a wedding held at the University President’s Home, I have requested an impartial review by the University System of Georgia,” Azziz said in a prepared statement released late Wednesday. “My team and I will make every effort to support the System in their assessment.”

It was unclear Wednesday how such a review will be conducted.

John Millsaps, the spokesman for the university system, did not return calls Tuesday and Wednesday seeking comment about the situation.

The call for a review comes after a Tuesday story in The Augusta Chronicle about the wedding. University officials acknowledged the use of state resources at the event and said the Azziz family planned to reimburse the state $416 for the use of a marked patrol car and a university system shuttle bus to ferry guests from the hotel to the event and to other locations. Four GRU police officers also worked as security for the wedding.

University spokeswoman Christen Carter said she was originally told the police officers volunteered their time at the wedding, which amounted to a combined total of 20 hours off-the-clock work.

In response to questions about whether the officers should have been paid, Carter said she was informed Wednesday that the four state employees – GRU Police Chief Bill McBride, Maj. Eugene Maxwell, Lt. Derik Still and Officer Peter Barbara – were paid in cash by the bride and groom.

Later it was determined that Barbara – a nonexempt employee who is paid by the hour – should have been paid through the university payroll system, and the matter was corrected, Carter said.

McBride said he wasn’t aware that Barbara wasn’t eligible to work off the clock at the event. He said after he was informed about the pay situation, he arranged to have Barbara paid by his normal hourly rate, plus any overtime he was owed for the 5.75 hours he worked at the wedding.

Carter said the other three officers are salaried employees and exempt from overtime rules for such events.

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LETTER: Azziz proposes review by University System of Georgia (.pdf)

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