This letter to the editor appeared in the Sunday May 13, 2012 edition of the Lexington Herald-Leader:
In the past few years, Kentucky has taken some steps toward strengthening transparency. Unfortunately, as we have seen in recent weeks, these steps are not enough.
Positive steps such as publishing legislators’ votes online, the establishment of a spending transparency site by the governor’s office and several legislative efforts to force openness in spending across all three branches of government are worthy accomplishments, but the battle is not over.
State Auditor Adam Edelen’s recent investigation of former Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer’s office revealed a culture of waste and entitlement on the taxpayer’s dime.
The problem is that we found out about this wasteful spending years after the fact. The damage has already been done. Edelen’s audit is proof that the transparency battle must continue.
Wasteful spending and abuse of power can be prevented with proactive, real-time, electronic self-disclosure of activities within a state agency. After all, if we want accountability for our state officials, transparency is the first step.
Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions