FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky’s emergency management chief resigned Thursday after a state audit found those within his agency wasted taxpayer money, intimidated employees and created a hostile work environment.
John Heltzel’s decision came just two days after state Auditor Adam Edelen released the audit report that listed the scathing findings.
The data in the report shows $5.6 million in "questionable spending" in recent years by the department, which oversees Kentucky’s response to weather disasters. Some of that money was spent on alcohol and entertainment at conference.
Former agency employees told Edelen that the office environment discouraged them from reporting waste, fraud and abuse.
Gov. Steve Beshear released a statement that said in part:
“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…”
The governor has named Mike Jones the acting director of the agency. He is the current administrative officer for military affairs.
Heltzel — a retired Kentucky National Guard brigadier general — disputes the findings in the report. The audit information is being turned over to the U.S. Office of Homeland Security.