On Monday, the Democrat nominee for State Auditor was in Pulaski County to speak to the local Democrat Women's Club.
Sheri Donahue is in a three-person race against Republican incumbent Mike Harmon and Libertarian candidate Kyle Hugenberg in November.
Donahue's campaign is focused on restoring faith in government. "One of the reasons people are losing faith in government is because our government is not living up to its moral obligation to put people first," she said before sharing her views on healthcare and pension reform.
The Louisville-area native earned an engineering degree from Purdue University and worked for the United States Navy for 20 years -- auditing multi-million dollar weapons systems and managing classified intelligence contracts. She also has extensive cybersecurity experience with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, InfraGard (an organization through which the FBI partners with the private sector for infrastructure protection) and Humana.
Donahue counts among her proudest professional accomplishments her development of a process in the days after 9/11 which the FBI now uses to coordinate domestic security information.
"Often [my jobs] required me to stand up to powerful and rich people," Donahue said, "some of them with billions of dollars on the line but I did it. I can tell you as your next State Auditor, I will stand up to the special interests in Frankfort…I am not afraid of people like Matt Bevin and his friends."
The candidate said that if elected, the Auditor's office would seek out waste, fraud and abuse regardless of party or other interests.
"Based on my experiences with the FBI and Navy, I had a pretty extensive network of experts that I was able to draw upon to help protect [Humana's] customer information," she continued. "That is the same network I will draw upon as Auditor."
Kentucky's auditor of public accounts is responsible for overseeing the budgets of state agencies, and ensuring the responsible expenditure of public dollars. The auditor oversees everything from pensions to school district budgets. What does cybersecurity have to do with auditing public agencies? Plenty, according to Donahue, who wants to audit Kentucky's electronic voting machines to ensure that every vote is counted and that our nation's adversaries aren't tampering with our elections. She has also pledged to modernize and expand the state's Information Security Audits, noting how much personal information Kentucky has on its citizens and the expense of repairing damage and/or preventing future hacks.
"If every county in the state of Kentucky were attacked, it could cost us over $300 million," Donahue said. "We can't afford not to improve our cybersecurity. Kentucky must put greater emphasis on cybersecurity because it's not a question of if we're going to be attacked but when. I can tell you that right now we are stunningly unprepared."
She believes her IT experience will also be helpful in general auditing. "We have over $70 billion in state and federal tax money that go through our accounts every year," Donahue said. "This is 2019. When people are audited, it's not about ledger books and piles of paper anymore. Most of the tens of thousands of transactions that occur are done by computer. It's all digital now."
Donahue concluded by saying that she is excited to be part of the Democratic ticket leading up to November. "A government that works for you is what this Democratic ticket will provide," she said.