Pubdate: Mon, 05 Jan 2004
Source: Courier-Journal, The (KY)
Copyright: 2004 The Courier-Journal
Author: Greg Stumbo


In a recent editorial, The Courier-Journal criticized my plan to create a 
Kentucky Bureau of Investigation (KBI) and suggested that the Office of the 
Attorney General (OAG) should focus on consumer protection and 
environmental regulation. While the KBI is an important crime-fighting 
initiative, its establishment is in no way intended to diminish the 
emphasis I will maintain and enhance upon the other divisions of the 
Attorney General's Office. These divisions include programs for consumer 
protection and the environment as well as victims' advocacy, senior 
protection, child support collection and public corruption. All of these 
programs will continue to be managed effectively to fight crime across our 
commonwealth and preserve the civil rights of our citizens.

In fact, shortly after my election, I directed my transition team to 
explore the potential interaction between the KBI and the Consumer 
Protection Division as an initial organizational goal. Knowing that law 
enforcement agencies regularly encounter cases of fraud and deception in 
business practices, I anticipated a need for effective communication 
between the KBI and the investigators and prosecutors acting to protect 
Kentucky's consumers under Kentucky law.

The creation of the KBI offers the Consumer Protection Division a great 
opportunity to improve its effectiveness. With this in mind, the longtime 
director of this division suggested a coordinated approach to their 
respective enforcement duties. As a result, I am designating a consumer 
protection investigator with extensive law enforcement experience to serve 
as liaison to the KBI. I will ensure that maximum cooperation will be 
achieved between these subdivisions of the OAG for the greater benefit of 
the public.

During my campaign, the people of Kentucky also stressed to me the 
importance of protecting our environment. I promised to use this office to 
achieve that goal. Consequently, another initial directive to my transition 
team was to evaluate the Attorney General's duties in the criminal 
prosecution of environmental offenses. I have concluded that increased 
effort should be directed to this area.

The Office of the Attorney General has concurrent jurisdiction with locally 
elected prosecutors to investigate violations of environmental law, and 
this authority will be exercised. The Special Prosecutions Division is an 
integral component in the Environmental Crimes Workgroup (ECW), which is 
comprised of state and federal agencies working in concert to review 
potential and ongoing environmental cases and to ensure the most effective 
use of resources in the prosecution of such cases.

The ECW meets shortly after I take office in January, and I look forward to 
invigorating and expanding the role of the Special Prosecutions Division in 
this important work. I will not, however, be targeting the new Republican 
administration, as you propose. I believe that fair and effective law 
enforcement is only achieved where wrongdoing is confronted wherever it is 
found. Those who would cheat our children of their most precious 
inheritance by violating environmental protection laws will be prosecuted 
no matter what their political affiliation.

Beyond The C-J's suggestions that I focus my attention on consumer 
protection and environmental law enforcement, other important areas must be 
considered in evaluating the beneficial effects of the KBI. You correctly 
note that one of the KBI's main goals is the eradication of illegal drug 
use, which has reached epidemic portions in some parts of our state. 
Accordingly, I have directed that the Medicaid Fraud and Abuse Control 
Division be increasingly vigilant in detecting any improper diversion of 
prescription drugs from theirintended use.

The proven worth of this division should not be underestimated. Operating 
on a budget of only $1.6 million, the division obtained restitution for the 
Medicaid program in the amount of $14.3 million last year alone. In 
consultation with federal authorities, I will strengthen and improve the 
achievements of this valuable division by allying it with the KBI and 
ensuring that any improper drug diversion is prosecuted on all fronts.

I am also compelled to defend the integrity and professionalism of the 
sworn peace officers presently serving in the OAG. Characterizing these 
brave public servants who have a proven record of fighting crime as 
"running around with badges and guns, their effects not particularly well 
organized or focused," misinforms the public as to the true capabilities 
and accomplishments of the OAG's investigative team. Recently, OAG 
investigators and prosecutors arrested 85 fugitive felons who were 
defrauding vital public assistance programs, collected a record criminal 
penalty of $1.2 million for nursing home patient abuse and recovered in 
excess of $3 million from predatory lenders. By establishing regional 
offices in the east and west regions of Kentucky, valuable resources will 
be brought to bear where they are most urgently needed. In this way, the 
traditional law enforcement duties of the OAG will be delivered along with 
the drug-fighting mission of the KBI to areas of Kentucky remote from 
Frankfort. The KBI is designed to far outlast my tenure in office, and to 
grow and respond to the evolving needs of this commonwealth.

The C-J may say "no" to the KBI, but the people of Kentucky have 
overwhelmingly said "yes." The people favored creation of the KBI, and I am 
keeping my promise to do just that.

I have met with and received support in this endeavor from Lt. Gov. Steve 
Pence, officials of the Kentucky State Police, FBI representatives, U.S. 
Rep. Hal Rogers' office, and the current director of the OAG's Public 
Corruption Unit, Jim Huggins. All agree that the budgetary constraints 
affecting the State Police, the redirection of federal resources toward 
homeland security and the growing magnitude and complexity of the drug 
epidemic point to the necessity of reorganizing the OAG's resources to more 
effectively fulfill its investigatory and prosecutorial functions.

I find that the OAG will greatly benefit from the effective streamlining of 
services that the KBI will provide, as I have briefly outlined here. I 
expect The C-J to evaluate this program on its merits as it is instituted.


Attorney General-elect

Commonwealth of Kentucky
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