Auditor-elect Mike Harmon joins calls for KRS director's resignation; names early members of transition team

11/24/2015 01:19 PM

Incoming Auditor-elect Mike Harmon is joining the call among his GOP colleagues for Bill Thielen, the executive director of the Kentucky Retirement Systems, to step down and give up a 25 percent salary increase.

In an interview with Pure Politics on Tuesday, Harmon said “it’s almost a slap in the face to all those people in the system who have not received raises…so I think it would be good for him to eventually fade out into the sunset as it were.”

Harmon is the second Republican in as many days to call for Thielen’s departure.

On Monday, Senate Majority Whip Jimmy Higdon, R-Lebanon, requested that the head of the financially troubled retirement system retire after the 2016 regular session of the General Assembly, according to the State Journal.

Harmon agreed with Higdon, saying that it doesn’t look good that Thielen received the raise after a search for a new executive director. The Kentucky Retirement Systems held a national search to replace Thielen, though no one was deemed qualified for the job.

Thielen’s raise is set to take effect on Dec. 1 when his salary will be bumped from $171,200 to $215,000, according to the Courier Journal.

In the interview with Pure Politics, Harmon again said once in office he will continue to push for a full performance audit of the retirement systems.

Transition Team

Harmon will be sworn into the office on Jan. 4, and is currently in process of transitioning staff from outgoing Auditor Adam Edelen, D-Kentucky.

Former state Sen. Sara Beth Gregory, R-Monticello, has been named to the transition team, Harmon said. He anticipates Gregory will stay on with the Auditor’s office as legal counsel.

Other members of the transition team include:

  • Ginger Wills, who is with the Department of Agriculture
  • Brad Metcalf the Chief of Staff for House Republican Floor Leader Jeff Hoover
  • Steve Knipper, the former Secretary of State candidate who will help with IT. Harmon said, he and Knipper had talked but has not confirmed Knipper will serve in the role.

Harmon is also reaching out to the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, KACo and Kentucky League of Cities for members to serve in advisory positions. Official transition team members will be named next week, Harmon said.

Tune into Tuesday’s edition of Pure Politics for more information on Harmon’s transition into office including an update on the audits he will consider.

Nick Storm

Nick Storm is the Anchor and Managing Editor of Pure Politics available exclusively on Spectrum News. Pure Politics is the only nightly program dedicated to Kentucky politics. Nick covers all of the political heavyweights and his investigative work brings to light issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, like his coverage of the backlog of DNA rape kits waiting to be tested in Kentucky. Nick is also working on a feature length bio documentary Outlaw Poet: A documentary on Ron Whitehead. Pure Politics airs weeknight at 7 and 11:30 on Spectrum News. Follow Nick on Twitter @NStorm_Politics. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or


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