Everybody loves Crit Luallen. It’s difficult to find fault with our feisty former State Auditor. I’d call her the pit-bull of government watchdogs, but since I wouldn’t want to draw any unflattering parallels between our beloved Crit and a certain failed, moose-hunting vice-presidential candidate, I’ll call her our German Shepherd.
So you can imagine the difficulty of the task set before Crit’s friends and colleagues when Jennifer Moore and Elizabeth Sawyer of Emerge Kentucky asked them to sharpen their lampoons for “The Roast of Crit Luallen” last Saturday night. Crit bravely agreed to an evening of good-humored lambasting, sacrificing her pride on the altar of women’s equality. Proceeds from the roast, which sold out, went to benefit Emerge Kentucky, an organization that trains women to run for public office.
We all know about Crit’s sparkling political career. You might also know that this State Auditor descends from some serious gubernatorial ancestry—John J. Crittenden, Governor of Kentucky during the 1800s, U.S. senator and U.S. Attorney General, was her great-great-great grandfather (and her namesake). But at the roast, I learned a few things about Crit that you won’t read in the Herald Leader or in the Courier Journal. By the end of the night, I had decided that Crit and I were soul mates. We have so much in common! Here’s a list:
1) Crit loves free food! Steve Wilson, who we now know as the eccentric owner of Hotel 21C, spent his early 20’s working with Crit on the campaign trail, fresh out of college in the 70’s. He shared a portrait of a 20-something, bell-bottomed Crit making it up as she went along behind the scenes of myriad Frankfort campaigns, sneaking snacks and adult beverages from the legislators’ stash at the Frankfort Days Inn.
2) Crit loves fireworks! I bet you didn’t know that the reason Toyota chose to come to Kentucky was because Crit, under the suggestion of Gov. Martha Layne Collins, dazzled those Japanese business moguls with a surprise fireworks display. While everyone else was schmoozing over Old Fashions in their evening best, there Crit was, crouched in a field behind the governor’s mansion, at the ready to send the first flare into the Frankfort sky.
3) Crit hates panty-pilfering! Yes, she too detested the panty-raids of Centre College—so much so that she wrapped herself in an American flag in protest (I’m not sure about the symbolism here, but I’m sure it was well thought out). Apparently she was always dedicated to protecting our assets.
4) Crit loves to edit! Bob Stewart, another Centre College friend, recounted the lengths to which Crit will go once she gets that red pen in her hand. Once, according to Stewart, Crit on the spot edited a passage from the Word of God itself, to make it more pithy for a campaign’s TV segment. How daring!
5) Crit loves costume parties! I think my favorite line of the evening came from Gov. Paul Patton. Dressed in an orange sport coat, he took the mic and said that when people called Crit a ‘party girl’, they weren’t talking about her dedication to the Democrats. Jack Conway had the evidence to prove it: some pics of Crit dressed as Gov. Patton for a costume party. And I’m pretty sure she was also doing a dance move with some finger-pointing involved. As Jack said, it’s probably a good thing those pics could never pop up on anyone’s Facebook Newsfeed in the 90’s.
After Saturday night, I’m still not sure if I’d want Kentucky’s own “Iron Lady” looking into my tax records, but I do know this: I want to party with Crit Luallen.