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Kentucky State Reps Ask Beshear To Respect Two-year Contract To Fish & Wildlife Commissioner

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Rich Storm via Facebook
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Some Kentucky State Representatives are requesting Governor Andy Beshear respect the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission’s decision to offer a two-year contract to Commissioner Rich Storm.

Representatives Matt Koch and Chris Freeland in a press release said 34 members of the General Assembly signed the letter that was delivered last week to the governor. 

Koch said the Wildlife Commission is not funded through taxpayer dollars but rather licensing fees through the Fish and Wildlife Department, “meaning it’s self reliant.” He said the Wildlife commission voted unanimously in January to extend a two-year contract to Storm. 

Spokesperson for the Governor’s Office Sebastian Kitchen said the contract with Storm required approval by the Finance Cabinet. He said the Finance Cabinet says it was a two-year contract but the state is operating with a one-year budget due to the coronavirus pandemic. Kitchen said the cabinet offered Storm a one-year contract but he never responded and failed to show up for work. 

Koch said the cabinet only gave Storm three days to respond to the contract and completely went against the commission. Koch said he believes the executive branch has awarded more than 900 two-year contracts since April.

“So I don’t buy that as a legitimate excuse,” he said. “Had they awarded no two-year contracts and no four-year contracts then maybe you can say that’s right on line with everything else but when you’ve got 922 two-year contracts and a very highly visible four-year contract, I think it’s painfully obvious that it’s not in play.”

Freeland said he doesn’t know whether or not the Governor’s office has the authority to fire Storm. According to the Lexington Herald Leader, Beshear’s administration informed Storm that he was out as commissioner. But Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources Board Chairman Karl Clinard said Beshear’s administration lacks that authority.

Freeland said the board is created to keep positions like Fish and Wildlife Commissioner from being political. 

“It has its own autonomous board and they voted unanimously to keep Rich…and the governor’s office has decided to not renew that contract and so I don’t know the legalities of it but I don’t think that it is legal,” he said. 

Freeland said Storm has been wonderful in tackling the invasive Asian carp issue in western Kentucky. 

“He’s put a person down there in charge of the Asian carp situation. He’s made sure that the subsidies are being paid. He’s made sure that the state is doing what the state is supposed to be doing, which in a lot of instances you see things set up and there’s not a lot of follow-through. He has made sure that the follow-through has been there,” he said. 

He said Storm has made a “world of difference” in the Asian carp epidemic in the area. 

“I’m worried that that’s going to go away if Rich is not there.”

 

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