‘One-Fourth of Ky Counties Have No Appointed Members of Local Ethics Boards’ — Ky Auditor Mike Harmon
Following is the response we got from Mike Goins, the former WSAZ and WYMT reporter who is now the communications director for Ky. State Auditor Michael Harmon. It seems there is a problem with ethics codes and boards all over the state and Lawrence is by far not the only county without a functioning County Board of Ethics. But the local board is being asked by the SOS to resolve an important nepotism and misuse of federal and state funds case — who is going to appoint the new members, ethically?
THE LAWRENCE CO. code of ethics was adopted in 1999 and has not been amended since. The original members totaled only five and they may not have been appointed correctly, according to the code.
So, is all this really necessary? Do we need to watch over our county officials to make sure they are operating in an honest and ethical manner. Up until now, the state auditor has given the county under Phil Carter good reports but this latest audit has to wake us all up and make all citizens look more closely at how tax money is being spent. What happened to the hundreds of thousands in COVID funds and the ARPA fund for roads and bridges?
We hereby call for a new Lawrence County ethics commission with seven members — four Republicans (majority in power) and three Democrats (as the code requires) to meet at least twice per year and read any public complaints and render recommendations to the Commonwealth’s attorney and the county attorney.
This should be done in the next thirty days, time is wasting. Lawrence County deserves honesty and integrity in its county officials.
Thanks for calling me. I’m working remotely today.
As for your question regarding the meetings of the Lawrence County Ethics Board, that is a question more appropriate for the board chair, the fiscal court since they are the appointing entity under the local ethics code a prior fiscal court approved in 1999, and the Department for Local Government.
Additionally, and to give you some statewide background on local ethics boards, in October 2020 our office released a data bulletin on the status of local ethics boards since the passage of House Bill 238 in 1994 which directed local governments to establish and enforce local ethics codes for elected officials. You can review the full data bulletin report here:
pdf, and the press release here:
Auditor of Public Accounts
Direct: (502) 209-2867
In Lawrence County – Ethics Code and enforcement entity relate to only one county. Ethics Code does not require candidates to file financial disclosure statements. Financial disclosure statements are not filed annually. Ethics Code requires additional employees/officers to file financial disclosure statements. Ethics Code indicates penalties could be assessed for noncompliance with filing requirements. Elected officials are limited to one relative on the county payroll. Members currently appointed to board/commission. Provided minutes from the last ethics board/commission meeting.