Tribune-Courier General Manager
Commissioner Misti Drew says she will research records dating back to 2008 to ensure accuracy in relation to the payment of unemployment benefits to former county employees.
“It is important to me to ensure that our records are accurate and not altered in any way to unlawfully assist someone in collecting those benefits,” said Drew, noting the county’s annual premium rate to the Kentucky Association of Counties is determined by the amount of benefits paid.
Her vow to continue an investigation on her own came days after special counsel Kent Wicker called the payment of unemployment benefits to former dog warden Goldenrod Kirk “misconduct” on the part of County Judge Executive Mike Miller.
“I believe there was some confusion in regard to what exactly we were voting to have Mr. Wicker look into. It was my intent that he look at all of the records from the beginning,” said Drew.
But County Attorney Jeff Edwards said he was careful in identifying the scope of Wicker’s investigation, even repeating it to the court for clarification at one point. Edwards also said Wicker asked each person interviewed exactly what was being asked of him.
Edwards said Drew is within her right as a County Commissioner and as a citizen to review former county employee records, saying much of what is contained in them is a matter of public record.
Wicker concluded in his report Miller committed misconduct by “causing a false record to be created which permitted Mr. Kirk to be awarded unemployment benefits.”
Wicker’s report went on to note the county was not harmed financially in the matter since Kirk has returned the $3,000 he received without protest.
Drew’s original complaint against Miller was two-pronged. She also said he had discussed issue’s surrounding Kirk’s departure from the county with members of the press, saying he divulged information covered only in executive session forums.
Wicker’s report also concluded that while Miller had released information to the press about the executive session, the disclosure of information does not violate Kentucky law.
Miller’s supporters packed the courtroom last week to hear the reading of Wicker’s report, many wearing lapel buttons to show support. Many of those supporting Miller believe Drew’s call for an investigation into the Goldenrod Kirk matter was politically motivated.
But Drew is standing firm that she is keeping a campaign promise by going after what she calls things that have not “been done to the letter of the law in Marshall County.”
“When I ran for office, I told people that I would work to create a new level of transparency in local government and would try to ensure that things were done above board and fairly and I said I wouldn’t be afraid to stand up when I needed to,” Drew said. “I feel like people who voted for me were probably tired of ‘the good ole’ boy system’ if you will – people getting favors, things being done behind closed doors, favors for favors, etc., all done with taxpayer money.”