Tom Eblen has a splendid exit-profile of Crit Luallen, outgoing State Auditor and all ’round awesome woman. The amount she accomplished and the force with which she did it is truly remarkable. If we could replicate her a couple hundred times, she could run every office in this state.
Buried in the profile is the whiff of news anyone who follows Kentucky politics and dreams of this state actually moving forward is waiting for:
As for her future, Luallen, 59, said she plans to seek elected office again but hasn’t decided which one. She has been mentioned as a challenger to U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell in 2014 or a future candidate for governor. “I’ll be looking at all of my options,” she said.
Freshly re-elected Governor Steve Beshear told CN|2 before the election that not only would he not leave office early to challenge McConnell, but that he’d never run for office again (and if you can’t believe Steve Beshear, who can you believe?) which theoretically leaves Crit Luallen as the #1 challenger to America’s long national nightmare.
CN|2 also took a look at the Luallen-chatter, finding some Republican(s?) fearful of a Luallen challenge most of all. Alessi points out:
If Luallen has a political weakness, it has been fundraising. She raised $480,000 in 2007 for her re-election bid and a total of $700,000 in 2003 for her initial run for auditor.
McConnell raised roughly $20 million in 2008 against Democrat Bruce Lunsford, and is already gearing up his 2014 efforts with a major fundraiser planned for next month.
Which is a fine point, though we are talking about Crit’s fundraising during major statewide election years and obviously in 2014 — if one assumes for the moment that the national GOP are actually as inept as they currently seem and can’t win the White House — Mitch McConnell is going to be one of the biggest targets in the country given his years of nudging us closer and closer to Depression II.
If it were a national vote, Mitch would be a goner. The whole nation is begging us to get rid of the sweet old man.
But Mitch doesn’t look to be going anywhere. He raised over a million in the last quarter and has $3.4M on hand already for an election three years away.
Mitch is doing a fine job of leading the Republican Party in Congress, acting as some sort of pubescent sage to the infantile Tea Party House, steering a path between GOP mines to effectively squander America’s chances of escaping recession. Many of the Smart Guys in the Washington press corps keep suggesting Mitch is the one steering the ship, and they praise him for it. If they were scribes on the Titantic, you could imagine much the same.
All of which begs the question — can the Kentucky Democrat Party field a candidate to challenge him?
Who will it be now?
Will Steve Beshear leave the mansion for another run against his old nemesis? Could Chandler leave the House? Might Crit Luallen step up to the plate?
Who can do it… and could they even win?
Because America is going to turn it’s lonely eyes to us… and it’s unclear if we have anything to offer beyond condolences.
(Personally, I prefer to imagine a world in which Rand Paul tries to primary Mitch so that he can unseat the Minority Leader and call himself the Senior Senator from the Great State of Kentucky. But that’s mostly because I’ve gazed into Rand’s eyes and find him and his jellied hair simply dreamy. But enough about me. What do you contemplate while sipping red wine and staring into a crackling log fire? Who is the Fabio protecting you from reality?)
Crit Luallen’s audit of the Kentucky Retirement Systems is a whitewash.
The audit primarily blames former Chief Investment Officer CIO Adam Tosh who left town one month before the placement agent scandal was revealed, and one placement agent, Glen Sergeon but does not recommend any prosecution, just blame these two guys and sweep the whole thing under the rug.
Some conclusions on Luallen’s Audit
It was OK that the staff kept the amount of money spent in placement fees secret from the KRS Board from January to August.
It was OK for former General Council Schuyler Olt and former Executive Director Mike Burnside to meet with Sergeon in March and not tell the board until August.
And questions remain unanswered.
Why did the staff wait until Tosh was gone to inform the board about placement agents?
Are there any plans to prosecute Tosh?
Why did the Auditor decide not to look into the land deal?
Why does the audit not address HB 480 relating to term limits and placement agents?
I’ll let you know when Crit’s office returns my request for a comment on this.
UPDATE: Crit’s response:
“The special audit of KRS was conducted by professional audit staff with years of training and experience. We stand by their work.”
Here’s the most respected public official in Kentucky, State Auditor Crit Luallen, talking up the Democratic nominee to replace her this year, Adam Edelen.
It seems like GOP nominee John Kemper III has a steep climb ahead of him to defeat Edelen, as he trails horribly in fundraising and is going through a personal bankruptcy as well (not the greatest feature when running for the bookkeeper of the state). However, Kemper recently came across enough money to not have his home auctioned off (score), and he also has this sweet photoshop ready to blast all over the Bluegrass:
Crit Luallen laid the hammer down today with her audit’s findings on the funny business going on with Pike County’s Mountain Water District and its contracts. Full details here, here and here, but of particular note is that Keith Hall (one of the very worst Democrats Kentucky has to offer, which is saying something) appears to be in some big trouble:
The audit also found MWD circumvented procurement requirements, allowing it to pay more than $171,000 for electrical services to a company owned by a state lawmaker (Keith Hall) who assisted in obtaining coal severance funding for the district that was used to pay for the electrical work.
This finding is being forwarded to the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission for further review.
The only approval by the MWD Board of this vendor would have been through the monthly approval by the Board of payments scheduled to be made by MWD. A review of the Board meeting minutes reflect no discussion by the Board concerning any of the monthly payments, including payments made to BMM for this service. This indicates the Board had no active role in monitoring and overseeing the more than $171,000 paid to a vendor for a service provided without a competitive bidding process and no contract agreement between the two parties.
Another concern is the involvement of the State Representative (Keith Hall) to obtain coal severance funding for a service his company provided through a non-competitive process. While it is the entire Kentucky General Assembly that must approve a state budget bill, local legislators select the projects for their legislative districts that are to be included in the budget bill. This would allow the State Representative to work with the other legislators with districts in Pike County to seek funding for the project. Once the Representative was chosen to provide this service without a required competitive bidding process and no contract, it presents a strong perception of a conflict of interest.
Jake argues that Hall should be stripped of his chairmanships in the House by party leadership, but considering that they consistently allow Jim Gooch to CHAIR the Natural Resources and Environment Committee despite his many embarrassments, I wouldn’t hold my breath on that one. That’s just how we good ole boys roll…
The KDP threw a big ole rally at the Frankfort HQ yesterday, featuring Jack Conway, Ben Chandler, Steve Beshear Wendell Ford and Crit Luallen. Below is video of Crit Luallen, Jack Conway and a small clip of the presser that Conway had afterward:
Jack Conway (refers to the stomp at beginning of part 2):
Crit Luallen released her audit report on Lexington’s KLC/insurance whistleblower extravaganza at 1:00 today. I haven’t finished reading it all, but here’s a quick rundown.
The Auditor’s office could find no evidence to support Patrick Johnston’s allegations of fraud in purchasing insurance with the Kentucky League of Cities which he made in the 2008 and 2009 fraud assessment surveys. The audit did, however, expose the complete incompetence within Newberry’s administration when it came to dealing with these allegations (spreading the confidential name), and gives recommendations for reforms that LFUCG needs to make so whistleblowers might feel comfortable enough to speak up in, oh, 100 years or so.
Also of note: the scope of this audit ended with the fraud assessment surveys and how they and the claims they made were handled. While the audit shows that Johnston’s name was carelessly thrown around and not protected, it does not go into whether the Newberry Administration took retaliatory action against Johnston by eliminating his job. This topic has yet to be investigated fully, as both the special investigation committee and the State Auditor felt that this was beyond their scope.
Here are the audit report’s findings below:
The Senior Advisor for Management was not required to inform an employee that he was the subject of a preliminary investigation for possible fraud allegations.
The external auditors released the Director of Internal Audit’s conclusion memo to a Council member without redacting the name of the LFUGC employee.
The Internal Audit Board was advised that closed meetings could not be conducted to discuss confidential issues.
The Office of Internal Audit is organizationally independent within LFUGC but the Internal Audit Board has not established operating procedures.
LFUGC has no established method for employees and citizens to anonymously report issues of concern.
The Office of Internal Audit did not establish policies or procedures regarding employee complaints or concerns unless provided in the form of a “special request.”
Procurement policies have no clear hierarchy of authority, occasionally conflict, and have not been approved by Council.
No consistent procurement method was used for purchasing broker services.
LFUCG does not use a quantitative scoring method for competitively bid vendor proposals.
The Auditor recommended major reforms based on these findings so that no LFUCG employee’s identity will ever be so willfully compromised when blowing the whistle on something they find improper. There are also recommendations to reform the audit board so that certain members (Myers, ahem), aren’t kept completely in the dark on claims as serious as these. Luallen’s office also found complete disorganization in the administrations procurement procedure, with some fly by the seat of your pants Lords of the Flies stuff going on there.
Much more on this later.
Here’s the response by the Jim Gray campaign:
“The state auditor has done a thorough job, as she always does. It’s apparent that had this administration been transparent about potential improper conduct the taxpayers could have been spared a long and expensive process. It makes you wonder what this cat and his aides were really up to in their litter box? I am pleased that the auditor agrees with my conclusion that the internal audit process needs overhauling. (See Fresh Start Plan at http://www.jimgray.org/fsopengov.html) As the auditor recommends it is past time to implement new purchasing practices, ones that will eliminate no-bid contracts and bring efficiency to city hall.”
More later after I’ve read the whole thing.
UPDATE: Linda Blackford’s more detailed write up here, with quotes from Luallen, Newberry and Myers.
Nothing to see here! What, these administration officials are blocking your view? Well, trust me, there’s nothing behind the door that they are blocking with smoke coming out of it, I swear!
Investigations into fraud allegations made by a city employee will come to nothing, Mayor Jim Newberry said Wednesday.
“There is a lot of smoke … but I am confident there is no fire,” the mayor said on WVLK-590 AM’s The Lexington Morning News with Jack Pattie.
The Urban County Council voted unanimously to set up a committee to investigate the matter. At Newberry’s request, State Auditor Crit Luallen also is investigating.
Newberry said Wednesday that Luallen might come up with suggestions for the city to improve the way it buys insurance, but said “I think that at the end of the day … the conclusion will be that there was no fraud.”
He said the letter from Mountjoy Chilton Medley “did not make clear the fact that the specific allegation was never shared with anybody in our administration.”
Anyone, Jim? Anyone? Oh, that’s festive.
Here’s Jim Gray on Newberry’s strutting in front of the smoking door:
Asked about Newberry’s comments, Gray released a statement that said “it’s inappropriate for me, or the mayor, to prejudge an issue that is clearly considered serious by both the council and the state auditor.”
Hey, but speaking of inappropriate, remember Newberry’s Bromanager Lance Blanford IV and his special LFUCG campaign manager badge? Well, Newberry says that it’s no big deal that he attends 12th floor meetings, because a Gray worker does too:
He said at least several dozen people have similar badges, including “one of the vice mayor’s most active campaign supporters.”
Straub later identified that person as Lori Houlihan, who coordinates volunteers for the Gray campaign.
Only, he’s full of it:
Houlihan said she turned the badge in as she left the PVA’s office and joined the Gray campaign.
Nice smoke, Newb. It’s always important for the Mayor of Oz to have top-notch smoke skills.
UPDATE: Mead cut off Gray’s statement, here it is in full:
“It’s inappropriate for me, or the Mayor, to prejudge an issue that is clearly considered serious by both the Council and the State Auditor. The job of Mayor should be to encourage openness, accountability and efficiency in government, and that’s the approach I’ll take as Mayor.”