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Kentucky wildlife panel reappoints former commissioner

April 16, 2021 GMT

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources has rehired its former commissioner despite objections from Gov. Andy Beshear.

Rich Storm was returning as commissioner of the agency Friday with a new four-year contract, the Lexington Herald Leader reported.

The Fish and Wildlife Commission voted 6-1 on Wednesday to approve the new contract for Storm that will pay him $140,000 annually to start with a 5% salary increase after the first year.

Storm had been working under a two-year contract for $140,000 a year before the Beshear administration stopped paying him last July. Board Chairman Karl Clinard said the wildlife commission added a pay increase and a longer contract length “to make sure we can keep someone qualified. I think it’s a bargain.”

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The move was made possible by the Republican-led legislature, which approved a new law over Beshear’s veto that allows the Fish and Wildlife board to appoint its own commissioner and set the salary for the job.

Beshear said the measure was unconstitutional and that a 2018 audit showed strong oversight of the wildlife board was needed.

The contract also has to be approved by the legislature’s Government Contract Review Committee.