It appears the FBI is following up after the state auditor’s office found that a Kentucky county attorney gave his wife bonuses totaling $126,500 in two years.
The audit found that Lawrence County Attorney Mike Hogan gave a total of $134,500 in bonuses to staff members between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2019 from delinquent tax fees, but that nearly all the money went to Hogan’s wife, a legal secretary in his office.
The audit also said the county attorney’s office used public funds to pay for an advertisement for Hogan’s private practice.
Auditor Mike Harmon’s office said awarding bonuses from public funds can run afoul of the state Constitution, and also could violate the local ethics code.
The office referred the findings to the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service, Attorney General Daniel Cameron, the state Revenue Department and the county ethics board.
On Thursday, Katie Anderson, a spokeswoman for the FBI in Kentucky, confirmed agents were “conducting judicially authorized activity” at the Lawrence County child support office.
Activity authorized by a judge could include serving a search warrant.
Efforts to reach Hogan Thursday afternoon and Friday morning were not successful.
Anderson said the FBI couldn’t provide any additional information.
Hogan said earlier, in response to the state audit, that his wife served a key role in his office.
The bonus payments to her were “honest pay for honest work that clearly benefited the public in the form of compensating an exemplary employee who goes above and beyond to serve the office and the people of Lawrence County at a consistently high level,” Hogan said.
Hogan said the local ethics commission had determined his wife was the best qualified person for the job, and that the bonuses to her were within the law.
However, he said he would end bonus payments from the delinquent tax fund.
Hogan has been Lawrence County attorney since 2003. County attorneys carry out a number of functions, including prosecuting misdemeanor crimes and traffic offenses, helping collect delinquent taxes, collecting child support and advising county fiscal courts on legal matters.
Hogan ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in the May 2019 Republican primary on a ticket with state Rep. Robert Goforth.