Former Supreme Court Justice and Kentucky native Louis Brandeis once said that,” Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.” Our auditors strive every day to bring greater transparency and accountability to state and local government, and a bill passed during the most recent session will aid in that goal.
Senate Bill 168, sponsored by Sen. Steve West, R-Paris, and co-sponsored by Sen. Chris Girdler, R-Somerset, passed both the House and Senate and was signed into law by Gov. Matt Bevin on April 1st. SB 168 clarifies the authority and responsibility of the auditor when we conduct a special examination or audit of a city in the Commonwealth.
In bringing greater transparency to cities, we worked with an outstanding partner in the Kentucky League of Cities. Their board was very supportive of our efforts, and we worked side-by-side in drafting legislation that overwhelmingly passed with bipartisan support.
Our office has conducted special examinations of cities in the past several years. Auditors have investigated 20 cities in Kentucky between 2008 and 2015, with seven referred to law enforcement for further investigation into potential criminal wrongdoings. The majority of these audits and special examinations were either requested by a mayor or a member of the city council; others were the result of a complaint filed by an employee or private citizen.
While examinations in 20 cities are a fraction of the more than 400 incorporated cities across the Commonwealth, it emphasized the need to us and the Kentucky League of Cities why legislative action was necessary to define our ability to conduct special audits and examinations.
Simply put, Senate Bill 168 solidifies our ability to make sure the leaders in your town are acting with integrity and keeping the trust you placed in them when they were elected to office. If it is suspected they are doing otherwise, then we are prepared to review and bring their activities into the light.
Our office welcomes any information and tips regarding alleged mismanagement within state, county, and local government. You can contact the Auditor of Public Accounts via our TIPS line toll free at 1-800-KY ALERT (800-592-5378), or file a complaint electronically at our website: www.auditor.ky.gov.
Mike Harmon was elected as the 47th Auditor of Public Accounts for the Commonwealth of Kentucky in November 2015. Prior to that, he served 13 years in the Kentucky House of Representatives as the representative for the 54th District.