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Thu January 2, 2014
W.Va. Dept. of Agriculture Audit Given to U.S. Attorney
The results of a legislative audit of the state department of Agriculture is being turned over to federal authorities. After learning of findings of suspicious activity within a legislative audit, Senate President Jeff Kessler and House Speaker Tim Miley ordered the Legislative Auditor to turn over the information to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
In a news release, Speaker Tim Miley says that after his election as Agriculture Commissioner, Walt Helmick requested the legislative auditor to perform an audit of the Department. Miley explained that this is a standard request, as it gives a newly elected office holder a perspective from which to begin operating and managing the agency. But Miley says the audit has revealed very troubling activities and management practices by the Agriculture Department's previous administration, including questionable accounting methods, expense reimbursements and loans administered by the agency. Former Agriculture Commissioner Gus Douglass retired from the department in 2012.
Meanwhile, legislative leaders will be working with Commissioner Helmick on any legislative changes needed to ensure greater accountability and to tighten statutory controls over the activities identified in the audit.
Helmick released a statement saying "we support that decision 100 percent and the Agriculture Department will do whatever is needed to assist in this investigation."