Editor’s Note: Current charges of sexual harassment in KY’s legislature take top billing. But, wait, there’s more. (All outside links and emphases were added by me.)
For many years Kentucky has been known as perhaps the most politically corrupt state in the country. In 2015, a Harvard University study ranked Steve Beshear’s administration as the most corrupt state government in the country.
Shortly after the Bevin administration took over, two of Steve Beshear’s most trusted advisors were arrested, convicted and sent to prison by the FBI for bribery in a scheme to funnel kickbacks for no bid state contracts into Andy Beshear’s campaign for Attorney General.
An audit performed shortly after governor Bevin took office showed that Greg Stumbo and others funneled something like $56 million dollars from a fund to pay cost of living raises for police officers into the general fund in order to pay for their pork barrel projects. It appeared that the long time Democrat power base had grown increasingly corrupt.
Then, Governor Bevin and the Republican majorities in the house and Senate came to power. There was a new sheriff in town and we were promised that things were going to change. Unfortunately, it appears that the stench of corruption extends even into the Republican house leadership and beyond.
Sexual Harassment Cover-Up
Over the past several weeks, we have learned that Republican House Speaker Jeff Hoover and three other House Republicans settled a sexual harassment case out of court and then tried to cover it up. Governor Bevin was quick to call for the resignations of anyone involved in this scandal. The charges quickly led to Speaker Hoover stepping down from his position as House Speaker, but not from his elected office as state rep.
There are currently several investigations in the works.
- The FBI is conducting an investigation at the request of Rep Wesley Morgan (R).
- An eight person group made up of representatives led by Rep Phil Moffett (R) and Rep Tim Moore (R) are conducting their own investigation (albeit without the power to subpoena).
- A House Caucus investigation is also in progress with one of the controlling members being Rep Jonathan Shell (R), who is a strong friend and ally of Jeff Hoover.
- The House Caucus has also hired a legal firm (that they are paying for and overseeing) to look into the charges.
- This week, Democrat Rep Jim Wayne called for an ethics investigation into who paid for the harassment settlement.
From my understanding of the KRS, if the legislators involved did not pay for the settlement out of their own pockets, it could be chargeable as a class D felony.
The LRC immediately responded that they had not paid for the settlement.
Unfortunately, the ethics complaint will be investigated by the LRC. LRC personnel were involved in the sexual harassment settlement as complainants. I’ve met David Byerman of the LRC, and I believe that he is a good man. That being said, allowing the LRC to investigate itself concerning these ethics charges is tantamount to insanity.
Rumors (and I stress ONLY rumors!) are swirling that Jeff Hoover, Jonathan Shell and Congressman James Comer had been colluding to stall or kill Governor Bevin’s pension plan in order to make the governor look bad. Their plan (according to the rumors) was to have Congressman Comer ride in on a white horse next election season as the GOP’s savior and run against Governor Bevin in the Gubernatorial Primary.
From this CNN article: “US Rep. James Comer, who lost to Bevin in the 2015 primary by just 83 votes after a former girlfriend said that he struck her while they dated in college, is a close ally of Hoover as well. He has been considering a primary challenge to Bevin.”
The FBI may be involved in the investigation of the sexual harassment settlement because rumors have been flying that Congressman Comer may have been involved in trying to convince the women involved and others at the LRC to keep quiet about the settlement.
I hold out hope that the FBI and the eight person committee investigating these allegations will be able to get to the facts and put this issue to rest.
I have absolutely no confidence that Jonathan Shell and the House Caucus investigation (or their legal team) will get to the truth.
That’s like the fox investigating itself for raiding the hen house.
In the end, Republicans excoriated the Democrats for their corruption, yet some in the GOP are actually trying to defend those involved in this scandal.
The truth MUST come out and the Republican Party MUST clean up its own house if they EVER hope to regain the confidence of the Conservative voters in this state.
If all of these allegations get swept under the rug, the GOP is going to be hard pressed to hold onto its House and Senate majorities.
Worse yet, they will have lost the confidence of the citizens and voters who put them in office in the first place.
The Republicans must clean house and they must do it quickly. They must prove to all Kentuckians that unlike the Democrats, they are above the corruption. Its time for sanity and reality to return to Kentucky politics.
I’m suggesting that the Governor’s office appoint a completely independent investigator with the power to issue subpoenas, not beholding to the House, the Senate, the Governor’s office or the LRC, to conduct a thorough investigation into all of the charges and the ethics accusations.
Should additional Republicans and/or Democrats be discovered to be involved in the corruption, then they need to be exposed and charged as well.
We must restore credibility and honesty to Kentucky government.
Without this exposure to political sunlight, Kentucky may forever be doomed to be considered the most corrupt state government in the country. We are better than this.
The only question is, do our legislators and politicians have the political backbone to do what needs to be done?
Scott is the founder and manager of the United Kentucky Tea Party, a coalition of tea party leaders around the state.