Friday, May 02, 2008

EXCLUSIVE: Fraud investigation in the Transportation Cabinet

Late last month, an investigator from the Transportation Cabinet's Office of Inspector General and a detective from the Kentucky State Police spent a couple of days interviewing Department of Highways employees at one of the cabinet's district offices. The purpose of the interviews was to investigate claims of timesheet fraud by employees at one of the county highway garages in that district.

(We aren't going to divulge the location of the interviews or the county in question, but there's a whopper of a clue in the next sentence if you know how to figure it out).

The details of the scheme go like this: After regular working hours, an employee in that county was calling the central dispatch office to report hazards in the roadway, such as rockslides or fallen trees. The dispatcher would relate the information to highway department officials, who in turn would notify the employees who were "on call" to go deal with the problem and remove the fallen tree, clear the rockslide, or whatever was reported.

The problem is, the hazards were non-existent. There were no problems with the roads. The calls were designed to get the state employees out to earn some overtime pay without having to do any real work, other than answer the call, find no obstructions in the road, and return home.

The scheme was uncovered accidentally, when an employee not involved in the fraud tried to enter some timesheet records into the state's computer payroll system. The system picked up on some discrepancies and threw up a red flag, which was noticed by officials who referred the matter to higher-ups once it became apparent what was going on.

No charges have yet been filed, no indictments have yet been returned, and to our knowledge no employees have yet been disciplined or fired. But there are some nervous people in the county involved, as some serious jail time could result.

This situation has been mentioned in passing on some of the other blogs in Kentucky, and at least one big-city newspaper reporter knows of it, but to date nothing has been reported. We think there's a reason for this.

You see, in the county in question, the ratio of Democrat state employees to Republican state workers is 3:1. That means that 75 percent of the state employees are registered Democrats, which logically means that the vast majority of workers involved in the fraud are also Democrats. State highway garages have been one of the most popular places for Democrat patronage hiring practices the past three decades.

This scandal isn't going to strike at the heart of management, the Fletcher administration, or Republicans. It's going to affect the products of the Democrat patronage system, who got their jobs mainly through political considerations and not because of their qualifications. Since it doesn't involve Republicans to a large degree, it's not of interest to the state's media.

This should be of interest to all Kentucky taxpayers, who have long suffered from the abuses of the entrenched Democrat interests in state government. Perhaps some conscientious media outlet will see this and shine a light on a deep, dark secret of state government where the cobwebs have accumulated for years.

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