Auditor finds misspending, intimidation in agency

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Associated Press

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - A state agency responsible for Kentucky's response to weather disasters and other emergencies has been slammed by a team of auditors who are reporting 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 much as $5.6 million in questionable spending.
   
Managers of the agency disputed the auditor's findings, which are being turned over to the U.S. Office of Homeland Security, the Kentucky attorney general's office and the Kentucky Executive Branch Ethics Commission.

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UPDATE (9:56 a.m.): Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear issued a statement in response to the auditors' findings. The governor's full statement is below:

“Kentucky taxpayers expect every state agency to operate in a transparent and accountable way, providing good stewardship of each taxpayer dollar while delivering needed services. In reviewing the Auditor’s report on Emergency Management, it is clear that in some cases, the agency failed to properly account for some of its activities and costs. I’m disappointed by those findings, and agree that the Auditor’s recommendations to improve transparency and accountability should be implemented quickly.

"In the past five years, our state has endured 11 federally declared disasters, affecting almost 99 percent of our citizens. This is an agency with a direct impact in the lives of Kentuckians when they are in crisis. I am proud of the work this agency has done to respond quickly and effectively to the needs of our citizens in those times of catastrophe. I fully expect Emergency Management to take corrective action promptly to make sure every dollar is used appropriately to help our citizens prepare for and recover from emergencies in our state.”

Kentucky Adjutant General Edward W. Tonini also issued a statement in response to the auditors' findings. The full statement is below:

"The Department of Military Affairs' leadership fully supports transparency and accountability in all state agencies. As we serve our state, we are responsible and accountable to the citizens of the Commonwealth as both beneficiaries and taxpayers.

"We continue to improve our systems, our equipment and our methods to prepare and execute disaster related missions on behalf of the Commonwealth and our Nation. As such, we will redouble our efforts to ensure every process meets these standards and provides the best value to the Kentucky taxpayers."

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