GOP auditor candidate Mike Harmon wants top-to-bottom state government audits

02/10/2015 02:57 PM

Rep. Mike Harmon is banking on a strong slate of gubernatorial candidates and a campaign based around keeping an eagle eye on state agencies in his run for state auditor.

Harmon, R-Danville, said it was a Republican gubernatorial candidate who spoke of the need for an auditor to do a top-to-bottom audit of state government that convinced him to run for the post.

“I tell some of our gubernatorial candidates I feel kind of sorry for them because really we’re going to go in at a time frame when there are so many strains on the budget,” Harmon said. “We adopted the expansion of Medicaid, but that three-year period is going to end pretty quickly … so we’re going to have to pick up part of that price tag.

“We already have all these strains, so we’re going to really need somebody to go in edit every aspect of it so we can save those dollars.”

Auditing the Kentucky Retirement Systems is one branch of spending Harmon said needs to be audited, though he acknowledged that it comes with a price as current Auditor Adam Edelen, whom Harmon will face in the general election, has said.

“I think it’s one of the things that we’re going to have to make sure we work with the General Assembly, make sure we work with the governor to make sure the money is there,” Harmon said. “We made a promise to these teachers. We made a promise to the retirees, and we can’t just turn a blind eye to some of the problems that we’ve had.”

Watch more on Harmon’s take on the Kentucky Retirement Systems and Kentucky Teachers Retirement System in the interview below (3:30)

Harmon last ran statewide in 2011 alongside Phil Moffett as his pick for lieutenant governor in the GOP gubernatorial primary.

In the 2015 race against Edelen, an incumbent who has worked across party lines, Harmon has his work cut out for him.

Without the May primary to consider, Harmon can move right to the fundraising and start building the war chest he will need to compete with Edelen, who raised more than $745,000 during his 2011 race for the office and enters his re-election bid with nearly $250,000 in the bank.

Harmon has put together a team of people to help him run for the post, including Jesse Benton, U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell’s former campaign manager who left the campaign amid a growing Iowa bribery scandal linked back to Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential run.

Edelen blasted Harmon’s choice of staff in an interview with the Lexington Herald-Leader in late January.

“Adam Edelen doesn’t have the right to choose who my campaign team is going to be,” Harmon said.

“Jesse reached out to me. I had an opportunity to sit down with him and his credentials are extremely strong. Adam Edelen should have some concerns about me having Jesse on the team.”

A strong slate of statewide candidates would help him in the down-ballot race, he said. Harmon said all of the four gubernatorial candidates have their own strengths in a GOP slate.


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