Press Releases

Sen. Rand Paul, Treasurer Todd Hollenbach, and Commissioner James Comer

From left, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky State Treasurer Todd Hollenbach, and state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer with the commemorative check. (Kentucky Department of Agriculture photo)


Comer delivers $1.65 million from failed fuel lab back to Kentucky taxpayers


For Immediate Release
Friday, November 15, 2013
For more information contact:
Ted Sloan, (502) 564-1138
Daniel Bayens, (859) 230-6187
Mark Pfeiffer, (502) 564-4722

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Agriculture Commissioner James Comer today presented a check for $1.65 million to Kentucky State Treasurer Todd Hollenbach for deposit into the Commonwealth’s General Fund.

The amount represents proceeds from the auction of equipment from the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s former motor fuel and pesticide testing laboratory. Commissioner Comer closed the lab earlier this year after finding that it was hemorrhaging some $900,000 per year.

“I am pleased that we were able to recoup the state’s investment in the failed fuel lab project and return these funds to the taxpayers of Kentucky,” Commissioner Comer said. “Taxpayer dollars are a sacred trust, and my administration is dedicated to spending them wisely and giving back where appropriate.”

Commissioner Comer was inspired by U.S. Sen. Rand Paul to conduct a check presentation to demonstrate proper stewardship of taxpayer dollars and show in concrete terms how he has turned the department around in less than two years. Commissioner Comer asked Sen. Paul to join him for the check presentation.

“I’ve given more than $1 million back to the federal government, and I am pleased to see Commissioner Comer return this earmark to the Commonwealth of Kentucky,” Sen. Paul said. “I hope the leadership shown by Commissioner Comer can be replicated all across the country.”

In accepting the check on behalf of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, Treasurer Hollenbach said: “Good financial stewardship of public resources is important at every level of government. The return of this money symbolically turns a lemon into lemonade. On behalf of the citizens of the Commonwealth, I say, ‘Thank you.’”

Comer closed the fuel lab in March, terminated all but one of the employees who staffed the lab, and privatized the state’s motor fuel testing, saving the state treasury an estimated $600,000 a year. At his request, the state Finance and Administration Cabinet auctioned the lab equipment in September, recovering $2.14 million in the two-day sale — more than the original value of the equipment.