A state agency responsible for Kentucky's response to weather disasters and other emergencies was slammed Tuesday by a team of auditors who found misuse of taxpayer money, intimidation of employees and an overtly hostile workplace.
Auditor Adam Edelen said Tuesday that Kentucky Emergency Management may have misspent millions in recent years, some of it on alcohol, entertainment and door prizes at conferences.
Edelen also said the team that conducted the review found documents had been altered to hide inappropriate expenditures. He said his team identified as much as $5.6 million in questionable spending.
"The report paints a picture of agency leadership that does not believe the rules apply to it," Edelen said in a statement. "The findings raise concerns about waste and abuse that may have gone undetected and jeopardize federal funding meant to prepare the commonwealth for emergencies."
A bill reforming how the state's special districts are categorized and making them more transparent easily passed the state House this morning, 96-1.
State Rep. Lynn Belcher, a Republican from Crittenden County, was the lone "no" vote.
Many local library boards, sewer districts and fire districts are considered special taxing districts separate from other types of government.
House Bill 1 is a partnership between Auditor Adam Edelen and House Speaker Greg Stumbo. It helps create a central registry of special districts as well as reforms how they file their financial information and sets penalties when they fail to do so.
Efforts to reform the laws concerning more than 1,000 special taxing districts are quickly moving in Frankfort this week.
The reforms were filed as House Bill 1 Tuesday and are a partnership between Auditor Adam Edelen and House Speaker Greg Stumbo. It would create an online registry to list the special districts and their required financial paperwork.
It would also re-designate them as special purpose governmental entities. The registry will be paid for initially with a special appropriation through the governor's office, then supplemented by fees on the special districts.
Edelen says the quick path the bill is expected to take shows that Frankfort can work to together on meaningful reforms.
The No. 1 priority for the Kentucky House in 2013 is set: Tackling recommendations from a recent report that found that special tax districts have big budgets and little oversight. Auditor Adam Edelen recently finished a report on the districts, detailing billions of dollars in spending with little or no oversight.
Ashley Judd is the most discussed potential Democratic candidate to challenge U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell' for his seat in 2014, but not all Kentucky Democratic statewide officers are supporting the idea. Auditor Adam Edelen said he'll be encouraging and supporting Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Kentucky secretary of state, for the 2014 senate race -- because of Grimes' focus on state, not national, issues.