Governor’s Charges Dismissed
A judge on Thursday dismissed accusations that Gov. Ernie Fletcher violated state hiring laws, allowing him to get out of a longrunning legal jam without personal punishment.
The judge signed an agreement dropping misdemeanor charges and ending a case that alleged Fletcher, a first-term Republican, broke the law by basing personnel decisions on political considerations.
The order, signed by Special Judge David E. Melcher, dismissed the charges with prejudice, meaning they can’t be brought again.
“It’s over, and I think the people all across the commonwealth of Kentucky will be very pleased that this sad ordeal is over,” Fletcher said.
A grand jury has investigated for a year hiring decisions by the Fletcher administration. The administration had been accused of illegally giving protected state jobs to political supporters.
Several witnesses said the administration had discriminated against them because of their political leanings.
Fletcher was indicted in May on charges of criminal conspiracy, official misconduct and political discrimination.
By settling, Fletcher can seek reelection without the shadow of criminal charges. Atty. Gen. Greg Stumbo, who prosecuted the case and has been considered a potential Democratic candidate, could run without breaking his promise not to challenge Fletcher for governor while the case was pending.
The grand jury returned 29 indictments, but Fletcher last year pardoned anyone who was charged or could be charged, excluding himself.
Doug Doerting, the former state employee who triggered the investigation by turning over evidence to the attorney general’s office, said that his goal all along was to restore integrity to the state civil service and that he was pleased with the outcome.