Kentucky Governor’s Tornado Relief Fund Disbursed Funds to Ineligible Recipients

By Savannah Hulsey Pointer
Savannah Hulsey Pointer
Savannah Hulsey Pointer
Savannah Pointer is a politics reporter for The Epoch Times.
February 3, 2023Updated: February 3, 2023

The state of Kentucky has sent an unknown amount of storm relief funds to those unaffected by the storms who didn’t file claims for relief.

A recent report indicated that money came from the Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund, which Democratic Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear’s administration established.

The state’s Public Protection Cabinet office issued over 10,000 $1,000 checks in December of 2022 to those impacted by a tornado that hit the state in December 2021. However, just days later, they began receiving calls from individuals who received checks saying they weren’t part of the group impacted by the storm, according to a report by the Kentucky Herald-Leader.

Kentucky State Treasurer Allison Ball’s office confirmed to The Epoch Times that FEMA was responsible for creating the list of disaster-impacted households.

FEMA spokesman Jim Homstad told the Lexington Herald-Leader that applications for aid deemed unsuitable for payment by the agency would not have been on the list of approved recipients. Additionally, the agency reportedly identified that around 27 percent of assistance applicants were potentially fraudulent and would have been excluded from the list sent to state officials.

Thus far, the state treasurer’s office has canceled payment on at least 192 checks worth $192,000 after being notified by recipients that the payments were made in error. It is, as yet, unclear how many checks were sent to unqualified recipients.

“Since last year, I have been concerned about Governor Beshear’s administration of the Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund—the fund is void of the appropriate oversight and transparency that are typical of other government accounts,” Ball told The Epoch Times.

The treasurer, who has been critical of Beshear’s handling of the disaster, went on: “I’ve repeatedly asked the governor’s staff for clarification on these funds and they have made it clear in written statements that they are not open to these funds being audited.”

Beshear, 45, filed for reelection in early December of last year, citing his efforts to generate employment, extend health care, and assist teachers during the pandemic and fatal storms. The governor, elected to his office in 2019, is the son of former two-term Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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