Friday, August 25, 2006

Ky. governor cleared in hiring scandal

Fletcher agrees to a settlement

Roger Alford
(AP) August 25, 2006

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- A judge dismissed all charges against Governor Ernie Fletcher in a state hiring scandal yesterday after the governor and attorney general agreed to a settlement that involves zero punishment for Fletcher personally.

The Republican governor took responsibility for his administration in the settlement, but he did not admit any criminal wrongdoing.

"The governor acknowledges that the evidence strongly indicates wrongdoing by his administration with regard to personnel actions with the merit system," the judge said in a five-page order dismissing the charges.

Fletcher's administration was accused of illegally giving protected state jobs to political supporters. Several current and former state employees testified before a grand jury investigating the scandal that they were passed over for promotions, transferred, demoted, or fired because of their political leanings.

Fletcher was indicted in May on misdemeanor charges of conspiracy, official misconduct and political discrimination. He issued a blanket pardon for anyone else in his administration who might be charged.

Under the settlement agreement, four Fletcher appointees to the state Personnel Board will have to resign to avoid any appearance of a conflict in future cases.

David E. Melcher, assigned to the case as a special judge, said the governor acknowledged that actions in the administration were inappropriate, he regrets their occurrence and accepts responsibility for them as head of the executive branch of government.

"This sincere expression of ultimate responsibility, however, is not an admission in any way of any criminal wrongdoing by the governor nor directly on behalf of the governor," the judge wrote.

Melcher dismissed the charges with prejudice, meaning they can't be brought again.

By settling the matter, Fletcher can seek reelection without the shadow of criminal charges looming over him.

full article

How touching. A crooked rethuglican judge pal helps out a crooked rethuglican governor buddy in his time of need. Brings a tear to your eye, doesn't it?!