Republican Auditor Mike Harmon easily wins second term

Republican Mike Harmon easily turned back a Democratic challenger and former defense-spending auditor in the race for state auditor.

Harmon becomes the first Republican to serve two terms as auditor since the law was changed in 1992 to allow constitutional officers to serve more than one term. Democrats Crit Luallen, Ed Hatchett Jr. and Bob Babbage had previously served two terms.

The office, which conducts more than 500 to 600 audits of the county fiscal courts and sheriffs’ offices, also performs special audits.

Harmon, who spent 13 years in the state legislature before running for the position, said he keeps politics out of the office that can uncover improper and sometimes illegal spending. Harmon is originally from Harrodsburg and was formerly an insurance agent.

Sheri Donahue, the Democratic challenger and first-time candidate, said Harmon’s office has not done enough to root out corruption in fellow GOP Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration. Donahue, an engineer, spent 20 years auditing weapons systems projects and managed classified security intelligence contracts for the U.S. Navy,

“When we see financial questions like with Braidy Industries’ aluminum mill in northeastern Kentucky, the troubled Martin County water district and Gov. Matt Bevin’s use of the state plane, so much has not been investigated by the auditor’s office,” she told the Lexington Herald-Leader prior to the Nov. 5 general election.

Meanwhile, Harmon said he has done a lot to root out corruption pointing to his special reports on the Kentucky Administrative Office of the Courts and Kentuckys’ broad-band project, Kentucky Wired, which found the project had overspent by $100 million.

Harmon both out-raised and outspent Donahue, campaign finance reports from the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance show.

Reports from Oct. 6 to Oct. 21 showed Donahue with a beginning balance of $3,515. She raised $11,605 during that period and spent $8,129. She had an ending balance of $6,991.

Harmon started that time period with $106,025 and then took in $17,734 and spent $98,136. He reported an ending balance of $25,662.

The office has an annual operating budget of about $16.5 million and fluctuates between 130 and 140 employees.

The job pays $124,113 a year.

Auditor of Public Accounts

  • Mike Harmon 782,027

  • Sheri Donahue 576,984
  • Kyle Hugenberg 46,587

(100% reporting)

Beth Musgrave has covered government and politics for the Herald-Leader for more than a decade. A graduate of Northwestern University, she has worked as a reporter in Kentucky, Indiana, Mississippi, Illinois and Washington D.C.