Lawmakers in Kentucky grilled the staff of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife about potential ethics violations involving elk hunting permits. The permits, which can generate as much as $100,000 in raffles and auctions, are used as fund-raisers for non-profit groups.
From this story in the Lexington Herald-Leader:
_…Marcheta Sparrow, secretary of the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet, confirmed after Tuesday’s meeting that there is a complaint before the Executive Branch Ethics Commission regarding the awarding of charitable elk hunting licenses.
Lawmakers had questioned why the nine-member commission that oversees Fish and Wildlife decided to award three elk hunting permits to a non-profit group with ties to current and former commissioners when state regulations appear to say a non-profit may receive only one elk hunting permit.
_The elk hunting permits can generate as much as $100,000 in raffles and auctions. Sparrow said the cabinet is looking into allegations that elk hunting permits for non-profits were handled incorrectly. “We don’t believe there is any intentional malfeasance,” Sparrow said.
_Fish and Wildlife is connected to the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet for planning purposes. All Fish and Wildlife funding is generated through federal grants or fees generated by sportsmen.
Rep. Brent Yonts, D-Greenville, questioned why the Fish and Wildlife commission voted to give three elk hunting permits to the Appalachian Wildlife Foundation, a non-profit who had a sitting Fish and Wildlife commissioner on its board of directors.
According to the statute, the commission can grant up to 10 elk hunting licenses to non-profits. But the statute specifies “a” elk hunting permit to a non-profit, not three, Yonts said.
At the time the elk hunting permits were granted to Appalachian Wildlife Foundation, an ex-Fish and Wildlife commissioner was also on the foundation’s board, legislators said. The sitting commissioner later resigned from the foundation, said Karen Waldrop, the wildlife division director for Fish and Wildlife._