John Heltzel has resigned as director of Kentucky Emergency Management following a state auditor’s report alleging that the agency misused public money.
Beshear announced Heltzel’s resignation in a statement on Thursday afternoon. Heltzel’s agency is accused of spending more than $100,000 on parties and other disallowed expenditures, plus threatening employees and altering documents.
You can read state Auditor Adam Edelen’s report here.
Speaking in Louisville on Wednesday, Beshear said: “At this point, we haven’t taken any options off the table and we’ll make a decision after we review the report.”
He was responding to a direct question about whether Heltzel should be fired.
Mike Jones, the administrative officer for Military Affairs, will serve as acting director.
“His first task will be to create a corrective action and implementation plan for issues identified in the Auditor’s report,” Beshear said in the news release.
Here is the governor’s full statement:
“This morning, I accepted the resignation of John Heltzel, the director of Kentucky Emergency Management.
The findings in the recent Auditor’s report made it clear that new leadership was needed in the agency, given the numerous questions and grave concerns it raised about the proper handling of funds, reliable and transparent accounting, and appropriate work environment under the general’s direction.
Under Gen. Heltzel’s leadership, KYEM has done a remarkable job in assisting cities and counties in recovering from the record number of natural disasters that have hit the Commonwealth in the last few years, and I – as well as the citizens of Kentucky – am grateful for that work.
I have appointed Mike Jones, the current administrative officer for Military Affairs, as acting director of KYEM. His first task will be to create a corrective action and implementation plan for issues identified in the Auditor’s report.
The public’s trust is a sacred investment that we all must safeguard, and this change in leadership will help to restore accountability and transparency to this critical agency.”