Audit: Kentucky State Agency Misspent Public Funds

Dec 19, 2018

Credit Rick Howlett

A state audit says the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources has violated state and federal laws and misspent taxpayer dollars for years.

The Courier Journal reports Kentucky Auditor Mike Harmon released the audit Tuesday and called for greater agency transparency. The audit says the agency has justified its expenditures by saying no taxpayer dollars were used. But the agency is largely funded by taxpayer dollars through federal grants and hunting, fishing and boating licenses.

It says the agency violated state law several years ago by transferring $1 million from the state wetland and stream mitigation fund to the fish and game fund. It says the agency also used the nonprofit Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Foundation to circumvent funding laws.

The agency didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The audit began in January at the request of Don Parkinson, the secretary of the state's Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet, which oversees the agency.

Harmon said his office "is hopeful the leadership at (the state's fish and wildlife department) will exercise greater transparency and accountability in the future."

"In many of the issues we identified, the agency justified expenditures by stating that no taxpayer dollars were used," Harmon said. "This type of reasoning is illogical, especially when it comes to the use of public funds. All public funds must be spent in compliance with state and federal law."