Kentucky's Auditor says the state agency responsible for responding to weather disasters and other emergencies used taxpayer funds to pay for $100,000 in alcohol, entertainment and other disallowed expenditures—and officials altered documents to hide it.
The review also alleges intimidation of employees who cooperated in the investigation. State Auditor Adam Edelen today released the results of an examination of Kentucky Emergency Management that was launched in March.
"I think what we have here is a culture where these guys are admittedly pretty good at their job," Edelen said. "But they used that as license to forget the obligation they have more broadly with taxpayers to be effective stewards of the resources that, frankly, a poor state has to invest in it."
Edelen says, among other things, the agency spent more than $100,000 on alcohol, gifts and entertainment at three conferences in Louisville, and altered documents to conceal some of the improper payments.
"There is no such thing as accidentally altering documents," Edelen said.
"There is no such thing as taking the headline of a business and then creating your own accountability system and plugging it in there and representing it as if it was an official document. It was not. They were literally caught red-handed here."
Auditors have identified as much as $5.6 million in questionable spending from fiscal 2007 through 2012.
Kentucky Emergency Management leaders dispute the findings; they deny that tax money was misused and that any workers were harassed.
The Department of Military Affairs, which oversees the agency, said in a statement that it “fully supports transparency and accountability in all state agencies.”
Gov. Steve Beshear says he’s disappointed in the findings and expects Kentucky Emergency Management to take the necessary corrective action.