Whitesburg KY

The victims of scandal still suffer

To the Editor:

Currently the airwaves are saturated with a political commercial wherein Ernie Fletcher tells us that his administration has “hired 61 percent Democrats.” I was wondering if this figure included former state transportation employee Leslie Campbell of Campton, Ky. In case you haven’t been closely following the merit hiring scandal, Leslie Campbell was one of many individuals who suffered harm at the hands of Fletcher and his partisan allies.

Leslie Campbell was a registered Democrat who was promised that if she would change her registration to Republican she would receive a job as a bookkeeper in the Transportation Cabinet in Campton. Leslie was eventually replaced by an individual who did poorly on the testing administered by the Transportation Cabinet when compared to Leslie who scored in the top 10 percent. Why did Leslie lose her position with the Transportation Cabinet? As Leslie’s lawyer we learned the true reason when the e-mails were revealed during the grand jury investigation that resulted in the indictment of Governor Fletcher and others. It turned out that a less qualified employee who received her job had substantial Republican connections who not coincidentally donated considerable sums of money to Republican causes.

Are there victims of the hiring scandal? Leslie Campbell who has three children lost her health insurance. Today she makes sandwiches at the Subway Restaurant located near Slade. The next time any of us get to see Governor Ernie Fletcher we should ask him, were there victims of the hiring scandal? Did real people get hurt needlessly? Was Leslie Campbell part of the “61 percent” of Democrats he proudly claims he hired?

If one were to believe the spin put on the hiring scandal by the Fletcher administration, it was basically a victimless crime. Republicans were just paying back Democrats for sins the Democrats had committed in the past. According to Fletcher the hiring scandal is simply a case of a political rival Attorney General Gregory Stumbo getting even with Fletcher because he happens to be a Republican.

My law firm has been battling the Fletcher administration lawyers, as we represent many of the Transportation Cabinet victims of the political purge. What is probably most disappointing about this scandal is this myth that the merit hiring scandal was a “victimless crime,” a proposition that has often been accepted at face value by the mainstream media in this state. Real people got fired, real people received retaliatory transfers, real people after year of service to this Commonwealth quit their jobs in disgust. Interestingly, the majority of the victims of the hiring scandal live here in the mountains.

The game plan of Fletcher and his ruthless allies was to utilize a little known rule that allowed transportation employees to be transferred without cause to any region in this Commonwealth. This regulation while innocuous on its face, seems to serve a good cause. It allows the Transportation Cabinet to shift employees to presumably deal with emergencies. What Fletcher and his Republican friends did was use this rule to transfer longtime employees to inconvenient locations as a form of political punishment.

Longtime employees were transferred such as Scotty Fugate of Breathitt County who was transferred to Pulaski County. Paul Bailey of Magoffin County was transferred to Powell County. Jerry Gritton of Anderson County was transferred to Fayette County. What prompted their transfers? They refused to submit to the Republican agenda. Fletcher and his cronies spent time assembling “hit lists” of transportation employees including my clients and others. The Republicans also had a list of political replacements who desired their positions. Scotty Fugate quit in disgust. Jerry Anderson retired. Paul Bailey after litigation was able to eventually get transferred back to Magoffin County.

The last time anyone tried to ask Governor Fletcher about the scandal he took the Fifth Amendment. Instead he runs misleading commercials that proudly proclaim that he “hired 61 percent Democrats.” Such commercials in my mind continue to provoke the myth that the hiring scandal was a victimless crime.


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