During a debate in Louisville on Friday, three Republican gubernatorial candidates and one Democratic candidate highlighted transparency and corruption as a major issues facing Kentucky in 2015.
The discussion began when the candidates were asked for potential solutions to dwindling fuel tax returns as a result of plummeting gas prices. Former Louisville Metro Councilman Hal Heiner said Kentucky needs to have a different approach for transportation projects and that the state has “one of the most legally corrupt states in the country.”
“Other states don’t approach transportation projects in the political way that we do in Kentucky,” said Heiner, a Republican. Often how well-connected you are and how many votes it might mean results in a transportation project. “
Republican Agriculture Commissioner James Comer picked up on Heiner’s critique of transportation in the state, saying that “corruption does exist in Frankfort, corruption will be an issue in this governor’s race.” He said it’s especially an issue in the transportation cabinet.
Heiner and Comer didn’t cite any specific allegations or point to any examples of supposed corruption.
Geoff Young, the lone Democratic candidate present at the debate, also chimed in to advocate for transparency in the Cabinet for Family Health Services. Last year a circuit judge fined the agency $765,000 for violating open records laws and withholding information about children who have died or nearly died as a result of neglect and child abuse.
“The culture of secrecy has no place in a democratic society,” Young said.
Republican candidate and former Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Will T. Scott advocated for releasing information on unfunded pension liabilities in the troubled Kentucky Retirement System and along with all candidates. Scott said the long-delayed sexual harassment report on the embattled Legislative Research Commission should be released.