Democratic candidate in 38th House District race calls opponent hypocrite on KLEFPF

10/30/2016 03:43 PM

FRANKFORT — Lawmakers in Frankfort were briefed on the details of a several month long audit into Department of Criminal Justice Training and the Kentucky Law Enforcement Foundation Program Fund which has become central to a state House campaign.

Rep. Denny Butler, R-Louisville, has made the audit and its findings central to his decision to leave the Democratic Party and to message to constituents to stand up for transparency in the General Assembly.

In a recent interview with Pure Politics, Butler said he thought the review should go a step further than the Executive Branch Ethics Commission where Auditor Mike Harmon and his staff referred their findings.

“I think it needs to be investigated criminally,” Butler said in an interview with Pure Politics. “There were too many folks that didn’t want the audit, and you have to go back to the original request of — we’re collecting tax dollars in a restricted fund for policeman, and policeman aren’t getting the benefit for 15 years.”

On Thursday, Sara Beth Gregory, the general counsel for the Auditor of Public Accounts, told members of the Budget Review Subcommittee on General Government, Finance and Public Protection that collectively the office opted not to refer their findings of excessive and unnecessary spending and questionable contracts to law enforcement.

“We also had some discussions with law enforcement agencies leading up to it about whether they saw anything there that they felt would be something they could pursue,” Gregory said. “The indication was nothing that could jump out.”

Gregory went on to say the report was filed online, so any law enforcement agencies wishing to review the audit could see their investigation.

The audit has become a main point in Butler’s re-election campaign in the 38th House District in south Louisville. Butler switched parties from Democrat to Republican at the end of 2015, after he said Democratic leadership would not allow for an audit into the training and incentive pay fund despite an insurance surcharge increase.

Democratic candidate McKenzie Cantrell said there are politics at play in the decision to audit.

“It was done by a Republican auditor on behalf of a Democrat turned Republican candidate who is hedging all of his bets on this fund,” Cantrell said of Harmon’s audit into the fund on behalf of Butler.

“Here’s what bothers me about the KLEFPF fund … he hasn’t done anything about the KLEFPF fund. He actually voted for $21 million of the fund to be swept in 2014,” she said.

“He voted for some of what he has been criticizing,” Cantrell continued. “It’s really hypocritical for him to be calling himself a hero over this where he’s part of the problem.”

Butler did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment Saturday about his vote for the state budget in 2014, when he was a Democratic lawmaker.

Cantrell went on to say Butler also has not pre-filed legislation to address issues in the fund, which should be addressed legislatively.

KLEFPF is funded through a 1.8 percent surcharge on property and casualty insurance policies issued in Kentucky, which are supposed to pay for training and incentive payments for law enforcement officers. The surcharge is set by the revenue commissioner, who lawmakers on Thursday’s panel called a nameless, faceless bureaucrat when advocating that the duty on setting the surcharge should fall to the General Assembly.

One fund not investigated by Harmon initially is the Kentucky Firefighter Foundation Program Fund, which is roughly one-third of what KLEFPF funding is meant to support.

Harmon said his agency is conducting a “financial statement audit,” which is different from the special exam conducted into the DOCJT and Kentucky Law Enforcement Foundation Program Fund conducted earlier this year.

About Nick Storm

Nick Storm is the Anchor and Managing Editor of Pure Politics, 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 the connection between the high profile Steubenville, Ohio rape and a Kentucky hacker whose push for further investigation could put him in federal prison. Nick is also working on a feature length bio documentary Outlaw Poet: A documentary on Ron Whitehead. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickStorm_cn2. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or nicholas.storm@charter.com.

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