Democrat From Kentucky

Democrat from Kentucky
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Lt. Gov. Steve Pence's Chief Of Staff's Computer Taken Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Marck Chellgren of the AP posted this story. It should give a decent run down on what happened with the warrant and everything in the Lt. Gov's office today:

FRANKFORT, Ky. - Lt. Gov. Steve Pence wanted to be the Louisville contact for Gov. Ernie Fletcher's constituent services operation that has become the focus of a special grand jury investigation of personnel practices, according to a court document filed by prosecutors Wednesday.

Pence, though, never pursued the job, a spokeswoman said.

The reference to Pence could take the special grand jury, which was impaneled in June, in a new direction as it enters its second extension of time to investigate whether the Fletcher administration violated state personnel rules by making employment decisions based on political factors instead of merit.

Thirteen current and former administration officials and supporters have been indicted for personnel violations, and all but one of the charges have been dismissed after Fletcher issued a blanket pardon for all wrongdoing.

In an e-mail in November 2004, Fletcher's former chief of staff, Daniel Groves, said he met with Pence "about the possibility of the LG serving as the LINK rep" for Louisville. "He really wants to do this," Groves said.

"He never expressed an interest in being a LINK representative," Pence spokeswoman Jeanne Lausche said later Wednesday. "I'm not sure if it was a misunderstanding or what it is."

Local Initiatives for a New Kentucky - LINK - was created as a series of regional offices for constituent services, Fletcher has said. But on the day he issued his pardons, he also announced LINK would be disbanded because it had strayed into areas he thought inappropriate.

Prosecutor Scott Crawford-Sutherland said Wednesday LINK was the clearinghouse for job recommendations.

Pence, although initially harshly critical of the investigation and who once declared that a competent prosecutor could get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich, has for the last several months stayed out of the fray as Fletcher has tried to put the scandal behind him.

But on Wednesday, investigators seized the computer hard drive of Pence's chief of staff, Steve Huffman. The e-mail about Pence from Groves was also sent to Huffman.

The attorney general's office contended the Groves e-mail had been subpoenaed. But Fletcher spokeswoman Jodi Whitaker said it had initially been withheld from prosecutors because of a claim of executive privilege. Investigators asked specifically for the Groves e-mail, and it was turned over last week as a sign of cooperation, Whitaker said.

Prosecutors have long complained that records subpoenaed more than six months ago have been withheld by the administration.

The grand jury met again Wednesday but heard from only one witness, Missy McCray, a personnel official with the Transportation Cabinet.

McCray's cooperation in the investigation - Wednesday was at least her third appearance before the grand jury - is also the subject of the only remaining criminal charge.

Transportation Secretary Bill Nighbert is charged with retaliating against McCray for her cooperation with the grand jury. Nighbert allegedly denied a bonus recommended for McCray, and the indictment also alleges Nighbert told her that if the incident had happened years ago, he might have "socked her in the mouth."

McCray has also filed a lawsuit against Nighbert and the cabinet, seeking unspecified damages, court costs and an order to stop "further harassment."

I wonder if the AG's office can bring down the Lt. Gov. too. It'll be a tough time for the Republicans if he can. Right now, the governor basically has no clout at all and Pence has stayed out of things. If they start going after Pence (and I hope they do), this could cause some real problems across the state. Also, with a couple of Congressional districts for Ky. on the fringe, real trouble could be had if handled properly. If I were the Republicans, I'd watch my step right now.

posted by Stithmeister @ 11:52 PM

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Location: Harrodsburg, Kentucky, United States

I'm currently working in the telecomm industry but one of my passions is still politics.

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