State Auditor's Office Investigating The Knott County Fiscal Court

By: Amy Walker Email
By: Amy Walker Email

The state auditor's office is investigating the Knott County Fiscal Court after allegations that the judge executive paved roads to buy votes.

Judge Executive Randy Thompson became the first Republican ever elected to his office in November in a county with only 500 registered Republicans and nearly 12 thousand Democrats. He says his county projects helped him win the election, but some are questioning whether the projects were used to buy votes.

Randy Thompson says he doesn't know the woman who lives at the top of this newly paved road, but he says every time it rained, her old gravel driveway would slide into the county road, and the county would have to pay to clean it up.

"It has cost thousand and thousands of dollars," Thompson said.

So over the summer, Judge Thompson and the three democrat magistrates designated up to three million dollars to blacktop county roads. But where the blacktop ends, is where the problems begin.

"I never asked one person to vote for me in exchange for blacktop or a bridge. I never did that and if anyone says that, they are lying," Thompson said.

But now the state auditor is investigating just that, after receiving complaints that Thompson paved private driveways. Thompson says the magistrates and their constituents knew the rules.

"They came to the fiscal court and say we want you to do this, and the court brings it into the county system, and that's when the county maintains it," Thompson said.

Thompson says sometimes homeowners would pay the company themselves to extend the blacktop to their driveway. Roy Jents says he couldn't get gravel for a cemetery road in his community, and he think it's because he's a Democrat.

"I don't believe in bucking the line, but things are going on, and you're not taking care of me," Jents said.

Jents says no one ever asked him for a vote in exchange for road work. Thompson says he showed no favoritism on which roads were paved first. State officials say with a previous history of mismanagement in the county, they are looking closely.

State Auditor Crit Luallen says it's too early to know if all the roads were brought into the county system before they were black topped. We searched the court clerk's office and found several resolutions this summer adding new roads to the county list, but we do not know yet if there are records proving that the roads were added first, and then paved.

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