Jefferson County Clerk Bobbie Holsclaw is criticizing Kentucky State Auditor Adam Edelen over a critical report and alleging the findings are motivated by his political ambitions.
Edelen’s audit of the clerk was released Wednesday and found Holsclaw’s office paid employees illegal Christmas bonuses and failed to fully document funds collected for local charities.
Among the audit’s findings was a check written by Holsclaw’s office to the Crusade for Children last year that was approximately $1,300 less than the amount collected. Besides poor documentation of the charitable fundings the audit showed that checks from the Crusade account went to breakfasts and lunches, fundraising awards and retirement party expenses.
It also found that around $99,000 in Christmas bonuses had been paid to employees last December, but the Kentucky Constitution prohibits that practice.
Holsclaw says previous state audits have not shown any accounting issues or wrongdoing, and she questions whether Edelen’s report is politically motivated.
“I can’t speak for this auditor. I don’t even know the man. I do know this; he has a reputation of being very ambitious,” she says. “I will certainly say that I admire people who are ambitious. But I will not sit by and allow that to happen at the expense of the reputation of this office.”
Holsclaw was elected in 1999 and is the only Republican elected to a countywide office in Jefferson County.
Edelen is a Democrat and former chief of staff for Gov. Steve Beshear, who has been rumored to be a potential Senate or gubernatorial candidate.
Holsclaw told WFPL in a telephone interview that the accounting discrepancy in the Crusade fund was only $77 and that the $400 payments to employees were not bonuses and were approved in the clerk’s budget by the Metro Council.
However, Holsclaw admits it was a mistake to have called them “gifts” in a letter to employees.
“I will not sit by and let anybody come through here and try to ruin the reputation of an office that has been as clean as clean can be. I’ve worked hard to earn the trust of the people in Jefferson County and I hope I do have their trust,” she says. “I find these things to be utterly uncalled for.”
Edelen has sent the findings to the city’s ethics commission and the Jefferson County Attorney’s office for further review.