Last week, the special grand jury in Franklin County that has been investigating (among other things) allegation of welfare fraud in the Cabinet for Health and Family Services issued its final report.
The grand jury handed down a handful of indictments and gave a final report of its findings. The report was dutifully reported on in the state's major media outlets.
But the press overlooked some very pertinent factors surrounding the grand jury that serve to give valuable perspective on the process, and what was -- and more importantly, was not -- stated.
Here is what you won't hear in the mainstream press about the grand jury and its process.
This special grand jury, of course, is the same grand jury that spent months and thousands of dollars being led around like shy timid puppies in the merit system investigation. The same grand jury that could only see fit to issue a handful of felony indictments concerning the theft of thousands of tax dollars by dishonest employees instead issued dozens of misdemeanor indictments on charges that have never before in the history of the Commonwealth been prosecuted, despite ample evidence of conduct much worse in previous administrations.
And therein lies the crux of why the special grand jury failed miserably in its welfare fraud mission and why the press has given the grand jury a pass.
While the grand jury focused on Transportation Cabinet hiring practices, there are two cabinets that have large presences in all 120 counties statewide. Transportation is one; Health and Family Services is the other. CHFS's duties encompass welfare and food stamp eligibility, child welfare issues, and a myriad of other social services functions.
The CHFS jobs are as highly sought after, if not more so, than the KYTC jobs, in each county. Since many of the jobs require college degrees, the CHFS jobs pay more than the equipment operator jobs at the KYTC highway garages.
And don't think there is any less political influence involved in social services jobs than there is in highway maintenance positions. When the governor's blue ribbon commission compiled statistics on state employee voter registration, it did so not only for KYTC jobs, but for all state employment. The overall numbers reflect those found in Transportation alone. A disproportionate number of Democrats have state jobs, even in counties with Republican voter registration majorities.
This takes us back to the grand jury. Again due to a failure of the mainstream press to do its job of governmental oversight, we know next to nothing about the grand jury's composition. The foreperson is a female and her name's been included on the signed indictments that have been released on the major papers' Web sites, but the names of the other 12 grand jurors -- or the nine who may have concurred in any indictment -- are unknown.
However, Gov. Fletcher's chief of staff, Stan Cave, was quoted in a New York Times story as saying all 12 members of the grand jury are Democrats. And it has been rumored that several of them are state merit system employees.
And therein lies the rub.
The grand jury's report tried to pin the problems with welfare fraud on management, and made mention of the fact that CHFS no longer contracts with the attorney general's office to prosecute these claims.This is NOT a management problem!
This is a problem with crooked employees. And that's why the grand jury alluded to statewide problems but didn't issue the requisite number of indictments to indicate a problem of that magnitude.
The employees being investigated are not Fletcher administration hirees -- who, if you believe the Democrats' propaganda, are all unqualified hacks who got jobs in state government due to their political connections to the new Republican administration. These indictees are longtime state employees hired under Democratic administrations. They are DEMOCRAT
patronage hires who owe their employment and their loyalty to the Democrats who got them their jobs.
To indict a bunch of them would be to acknowledge that there is a mess in state government, caused by the Democrats, that the Fletcher administration has been trying to clean up. And a prosecutor with political loyalties to Greg Stumbo and Ben Chandler certainly wouldn't want to do that, now would you, Scott Crawford-Sutherland?
So the bottom line is that there was no desire by the prosecutor or the grand jury to fully investigate the welfare fraud aspect of the jury's charge, because to do so would expose the abuses of years of Democrat patronage that they have taken great pains to avoid during the merit system investigation. These people who claim that Democrats never abused the merit system are akin to Holocaust deniers -- they refuse to acknowledge the truth when it's right there in front of their eyes.
Of course CHFS isn't the only place where Democrat patronage hires have been helping themselves illegally to public money. One highway department superintendent was recently arrested for stealing tires and selling them to buy drugs. Some other employees were caught stealing road signs and other metal and selling the purloined items for scrap. What reward does Gov. Fletcher and his administration get for trying to bring a halt to this criminality by hiring decent employees who share the administration's vision? A bunch of misdemeanor indictments issued by the same prosecutor and grand jury who are, in essence, trying to cover up more serious wrongdoing and blaming it on administrative weaknesses.
Keep this in mind as you digest news and information about the welfare fraud aspect of the grand jury's work. Ask yourself why more attention wasn't paid to this problem, that is costing Kentucky taxpayers thousands of dollars and eroding confidence in the competence and honesty of state workers.
And ask Greg Stumbo which is more important -- prosecuting Democrats who are robbing Kentucky blind, or persecuting Republicans who are trying to put a stop to this nonsense?