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"It's a sad day for Kentucky."
August 30, 2005 10:19 AM   Subscribe

Governor Pardons All But Himself In Personnel Investigation In case y'all thought Kentucky's only problem was obesity. The local paper's article has a sidebar of related stories, including a link to a "full coverage" series on this Merit System Investigation. As he told the Grand Jury, "I would like this to be a new day."
posted by davy (59 comments total)

 
BluegrassReport.org is all over this story:
Sources have told BluegrassReport.org in recent weeks that [KY lieutenant governor Steve] Pence was one of the few members of the Fletcher Administration who opposed granting pardons. Also, recall Pence's on-the-record promise to Pat Crowley of the Kentucky Enquirer the day after then Democratic Governor Paul Patton pardoned four campaign workers in 2003 before trial by stating:

"Things like that are not going to happen in a Fletcher-Pence administration."
posted by Vidiot at 10:25 AM on August 30, 2005


It sounds to me like this guy did what was right. "The buck stops here." He is taking full responsibility for any possible thing done under his watch. And that's the problem?

(And what's with the asinine sidebar about obesity? It's fucking pathetic. Had this happened in some great, enlightened northern city, would you make some crack like that? If you are going to so god-awfully ignorant and hypocritical to your principles because of your hatred of the south, please keep it to yourself.)
posted by dios at 10:33 AM on August 30, 2005


Hmm, I searched your zip code and it looks like you live in Kentucky. To the extent I made an incorrect assumption regarding your views about Kentucky, that is my fault and my error. I should have been more careful instead of assuming it was another back-handed insult to the South.
posted by dios at 10:37 AM on August 30, 2005


Yeah, he's taking responsibility by refusing to speak to the jury.
posted by punishinglemur at 10:37 AM on August 30, 2005


Taking full responsibility == Pleading the 5th.

How does that work again?
posted by Talanvor at 10:44 AM on August 30, 2005


And, dios, man, wee bit sensitive are we? It's not as if Southerners don't have horrible stereotypes about Northerners or West Coasters either, not as if Dixie is a long suffering martyr on that front.

/derail
posted by Talanvor at 10:47 AM on August 30, 2005


dios: I think davy was referring to an earlier metafilter post about the problem of obesity in Kentucky.
posted by billysumday at 10:48 AM on August 30, 2005


He is taking full responsibility for any possible thing done under his watch. And that's the problem?

No he's not dios. He's killing the investigation before the details become known. That's not accepting responsibility: it's avoiding responsibility.

Stumbo should drop his investigation and get on with more important business, Fletcher said.

How is dropping the investigation taking responsibility?

It looks to me like more Republican corruption swept under the rug, explained away, and excused by the Republican faithful.
posted by three blind mice at 10:50 AM on August 30, 2005


Hmm. The impression I got was that he was saying something along the lines of "I don't think anything wrong was done, but if it was, come after me, not the people who were just doing their jobs." That kind of attitude I respect.

If he is just really trying to shut down an investigation, then that is wrong. I know politics are involved, but if something is wrong, then someone should pay. If the governer is offering to take it all on himself, good for him. If he just playing games, shame on him.
posted by dios at 10:54 AM on August 30, 2005


"The buck stops here"

Is that all you have? Some trite saying?

All these people committed illegal acts, and should be punished - thats how its supposed to work. Its funny how he just wants to pardon everyone and get on with it, how he wants a new day to begin. Because as it lingers in the news it hurts their image more and more. If every person involved in this went to trial, it'd be a train wreck politically. And we cant have that can we?

He is sending the message that party loyalty, perception and image are more important than justice. This is the BS that needs to stop.
posted by SirOmega at 10:56 AM on August 30, 2005


this blatant grandstanding could easily be viewed as obstruction of justice. I wonder if he called the US Attorney General and asked if it were ok to do this.

Kentucky is now on banana watch.
posted by jsavimbi at 10:57 AM on August 30, 2005


The paperwork pardons the nine people already charged as well as anyone else who might come to the attention of the special grand jury for violation of any section of the penal code, not just the personnel laws. The pardon extends to crimes that may have been committed up to Monday.

Blanket pardons for all his cronies? No matter what crime they committed?

Now that's what I call the rule of law.

I didn't realise a Governor had the powers to do that. Just think of the potential!

They obviously thought about it some time ago. It'll be interesting to see exactly what crimes it is that they've been "pardoned" for committing.
posted by cleardawn at 11:01 AM on August 30, 2005


Fletcher said he has "never knowingly violated any laws" while governor.

Homer: Shut up, shut up! If I don't hear you it's not illegal!
posted by Talanvor at 11:01 AM on August 30, 2005


I don't think a state governor can pardon Federal crimes, so it may not be over quite yet.
posted by Malor at 11:05 AM on August 30, 2005


Blanket pardons for all his cronies? No matter what crime they committed?

No, he just pardoned people from charges based off this allegation.

I think a modicum of perspective is necessary here. This isn't a giant violent crime spree he is pardoning people for. The issue is whether people who helped out the Governor during his campaign were given jobs based on their help. It is the long and honored tradition of the spoil system. Not some great and historic crime.

But, if it was a crime based on a Kentuky statute, someone should have to pay. If the governor was the one who ordered that the people get the jobs who helped him, the governor should have to pay. But to act like this is some massive historic coverup of crime and guilty scumbags are going to go free because they helped people get spoil jobs at the ordering of the governor is a little much.
posted by dios at 11:09 AM on August 30, 2005


True, no one was murdered, far as we know anyway.

The point is, if a politician that has authority to pardon anyone, and does so whenever his lackeys get into trouble, when does that politician actually start respecting the law? And why should any citizenry have to put up with that obviously corrupt politician?

The man compared any crimes that might have been committed to "minor violations of fishing laws.". From this it seems as if he's saying that it's okay to break a law, as long as it isn't an important one. Hrm. From what I understood, laws weren't just suggestions that are okay to ignore when they get inconvenient.

Besides, think of the kind of precedent this sets. The use of raw, naked political power for self interest is somewhat disturbing. Say Bush gives Cheney a pardon for any crimes he may have committed until next Thursday, and then a dead hooker is found in his home on Tuesday, well I guess that's okay then, right? He got a pardon, after all.

And, quite frankly, I find the whole hire your friends bullshit to be just that. Donate $150K to my campaign, and I'll make you an ambassador to Tahiti!

Government for sale. Hardly used, one careful owner.
posted by Talanvor at 11:20 AM on August 30, 2005


If they require pardoning, they did something illegal. If they did something illegal, they need to be held accountable.

If they didn't do anything illegal, they don't need pardoning.


What part of this being seriously unethical behavior don't you understand?

Further, the likelihood is that the gov himself was not directly involved in these illegal activities.

So the gov doesn't get held accountable, or it's a far harder case to hold him accountable, meanwhile, the people for whom proof of wrongdoing is an open and shut case walk, thanks to a pardon. If they walk, not only are they not accountable for their wrongdoings, but they have no impetus to cooperate with investigators to determine the extent of the crime.

It's a pretty picture of Truman-esque responsibility you paint Dios, but it don't feed the bulldog.
posted by stenseng at 11:23 AM on August 30, 2005


Dios, once again you sum up the situation perfectly, albeit accidentally. As you said:

"...this is some massive historic coverup of crime and guilty scumbags are going to go free because they helped people get spoil jobs at the ordering of the governor...".
posted by cleardawn at 11:27 AM on August 30, 2005


cleardawn: Blanket pardons for all his cronies? No matter what crime they committed?

dios: No, he just pardoned people from charges based off this allegation.

The actual text of the pardon seems to lie somewhere between these two statements:
... I, ERNIE FLETCHER, Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, do hereby grant a full, complete, and unconditional pardon to (list of 9 individuals), and any and all persons who have committed, or may be accused of committing, any offense up to and including the date hereof, relating in any way to the current merit system investigation being conducted by the special grand jury presently sitting in Franklin County, Kentucky and the Office of the Attorney General, including but not limited to any violation of KRS Chapter 18A, all statutes within the Kentucky Penal Code, and in particular (list of 12 specific statutes). The provisions of the this Order shall not apply to Ernie Fletcher, Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

posted by RichardP at 11:28 AM on August 30, 2005


It sounds to me like this guy did what was right. "The buck stops here." He is taking full responsibility for any possible thing done under his watch. And that's the problem?

Are you kidding? "taking responsibility" isn't the same thing as letting all your cronies go free.
posted by delmoi at 11:32 AM on August 30, 2005


Look, perhaps you guys know more about this incident then I do. The universe of my understanding of the case is contained in the links above. For those links, I found a pictured emerged: Governor gives jobs to people who helped him. To do this, he instructed his employees. Probably something like "Make sure my buddy Bob Smith gets a position." A typical spoil system. The AG found about it and say an opportunity to take on a political adversary. So, the AG subpoenaed and charged all of the governor's lackeys in an effort to make a massive attack on the governor. The governor cut through the BS and pardoned them and put his own neck on the line and said come and get it.

That is the picture in my head of what happened. It very well may be wrong. But I read nothing in the article which suggests that massive indignation and corruption is going on here. If the governor did that and if it is against a law in Kentucky, then he should have to suffer the consequences, both criminally and politically. But it is silly to suggest that criminals are being set free when the governor pardons his chief of staff whom he told to give Bob Smith a job. It isn't like these people pose grave threats.

Again.... I don't know how many times I have to repeat this to keep people from acting like I didn't say it..... if this guy broke a law, he should have to pay the consequences. I think it is a risky move politically to pardon these people. But to act like serious criminal behavior occurred or criminals will escape justice is just a bit much.
posted by dios at 11:34 AM on August 30, 2005


Richard, could you please explain how what you just posted in any way extends the pardon beyond what I stated?
posted by dios at 11:35 AM on August 30, 2005


I have no idea what Dios is on about. These people committed crimes (time-honored or not) and now they cannot be punished. He said he wants to take responsibility himself, but what if he, himself, never did anything wrong? That would mean no person took any responsibility for the crimes which were committed.

The point of the law is to get rid of the spoils system and help state government become less corrupt.

To claim that he's 'taking responsibility' for his actions is asinine on its face.
posted by delmoi at 11:41 AM on August 30, 2005


On preview, cleardawn just beat me to it.

Even Nixon never pulled that, and Gerald Ford pardoned only Nixon, poor Tokyo Rose, and Clyde Wilson.

And dios, the long and honored tradition of the spoil system"[sic] is a crime. As you'll see if you read up on the background on this, what caught my eye is the allegation that non-Republicans and/or those who did not contribute money for Fletcher's campaign were passed over for promotion, or even fired, in favor of those who had been more "helpful". If that's true, and I don't know why Fletcher would issue these pardons if he thought there was no substance to the charges, then that's corruption, dios, as well as tyranny.

And every corrupt tyrant depends on his "friends". And Fletcher's will now presumably stay his friends, as stenseng just pointed out. Imagine if Nixon had pardoned John Dean before he was called to testify, along with Liddy, Haldeman, Erlichman, and everybody else who might be connected with "Watergate".
posted by davy at 11:41 AM on August 30, 2005


It doesn't get fun until the announcement that he or any of his staff were schtupping one or more of those pardoned. Then it's a party.
posted by bhance at 11:43 AM on August 30, 2005


IOKIYAR.

Fletcher's acolytes, whom he pardoned, call themselves The Disciples.
Accountability?
Heh!
Hell, Kentucky GOP can't be letting Ohio GOP out-corrupt them!
posted by nofundy at 11:44 AM on August 30, 2005


But to act like serious criminal behavior occurred or criminals will escape justice is just a bit much.

Then why the pardon? If it was just some minor, unimportant, move-along-folks-nothing-to-see-here, tiny, little, not really a crime in the big scheme of things crimes, then why the pardon?
posted by three blind mice at 11:44 AM on August 30, 2005


tbm, he seems to have explained why he did it: to cut through the gamesmanship of the AG. He basically said "if you think I did something wrong, come and get me. Quit harassing my secretary."
posted by dios at 11:48 AM on August 30, 2005


it is silly to suggest that criminals are being set free when the governor pardons his chief of staff whom he told to give Bob Smith a job

Pretzel logic.
If only it worked that way then Ken Lay would be serving life in prison.
Pardoning criminals before they are even tried reeks of obstruction of justice.
Caspar Weinberger and the Bush Christmas pardons anyone?
posted by nofundy at 11:48 AM on August 30, 2005


dios, you claim to have read the article, yet you still say this: "The governor cut through the BS and pardoned them and put his own neck on the line and said come and get it."

Did you miss the part of the article where he said he will not answer questions for the jury? Did you miss the part of the article where he admitted that the law was violated, and then suggested that the AG drop the investigation?

He didn't say come and get it. He said he would not (and indeed he did not) answer any questions for the jury. He said the AG should drop everything.
posted by punishinglemur at 11:50 AM on August 30, 2005


And dios, without anybody to testify against him they'll have an even harder time proving he did anything wrong. (Perhaps you're "being obtuse" on purpose to stir shit up; surely you can't be that stupid.)
posted by davy at 11:54 AM on August 30, 2005


Did you miss the part of the article where he said he will not answer questions for the jury?

Testimony of the accused is not necessary in the prosecution of a criminal charge. The AG can still pursue a criminal action against the governor without his testimony.

Look, the governor said the people would face the punishment of the two administrative agencies investigating this. What he is taking action against is what he views as a politically opportunist AG. He has left himself exposed to the criminal charges and punishment. He has left his people exposed to the administrative agency punishments. But what he has taken upon himself is a long, drawn out gamesmanship of prosecuting the governor's whole staff. To that end, the governor has told him to stop it and just come after him.
posted by dios at 11:57 AM on August 30, 2005


What I don't get is that he could have actually pardoned himself as well as his partners in crime? What in the hell's wrong with a system that allows the guilty to wash themselves clean in an instant?

Somebody call the repairshop, our government's done gone and broke itself again and now we've got asshole corrupt politicos pardoning their pals.
posted by fenriq at 11:59 AM on August 30, 2005


And dios, without anybody to testify against him they'll have an even harder time proving he did anything wrong. (Perhaps you're "being obtuse" on purpose to stir shit up; surely you can't be that stupid.)
posted by davy at 11:54 AM PST on August 30


Look, don't call me stupid and then say something so ignorant. He didn't pardon them from having to testify. He pardon them from charges. They can still be subpoenaed to testify. Adidtionally, the people who were passed over and anyone else can still testify. So where do you get this incorrect idea that there won't be "anyone" to testify?

Moreover, even if he didn't pardon the people, do you think he would still have testifed? Of course not. He wasn't going to testify against himself regardless of this pardon action. Defendants in criminal cases very, very rarely do.

So easy there with calling people stupid whilst saying stupid things yourself.
posted by dios at 12:01 PM on August 30, 2005


dios: Richard, could you please explain how what you just posted in any way extends the pardon beyond what I stated?

I read "charges based off" as narrower in scope than "relating in any way," but I'm willing to concede.

davy: And dios, without anybody to testify against him they'll have an even harder time proving he did anything wrong.

Actually, the pardon will make it easier to compel the pardoned individuals to testify (since they won't be able to take the 5th). However, it does seems likely that on the stand they will now be more likely to uncooperative since the AG won't be able to use the threat of prosecution to convince them to be particularly forthcoming.
posted by RichardP at 12:04 PM on August 30, 2005


dios: all the pardoned people have to do is claim that they came up with the system themselves, and that the governor had no knowledge of what was going on. If you can't see how this gives the governor far less accountability then before you truly are an idiot. The people he pardoned committed crimes, they acted of their own volition and ought to be punished appropriately.
posted by delmoi at 12:08 PM on August 30, 2005


Richard: I would think they'd be able to be held in contempt of court if they don't testify, and possibly be charged with perjury, since the pardon dosn't pardon them for future crimes.
posted by delmoi at 12:09 PM on August 30, 2005


Dios, imagine you, the sole support of your family in a poor state, were fired from your state job because you did not contribute to the new Democratic governor's re-election campaign, so that someone who had been "helpful" could be hired in your place. You'd be howling about the injustice.

Hmmm... RichardP, I don't see much practical difference here between your examples. Either way, they're not likely to help the case against the Governor. If it was me I'd develop one large case of amnesia. ("After all the Governor did for you you still talk against him?", says the "loyal campaign worker".)
posted by davy at 12:12 PM on August 30, 2005


We're talking as though this is just a typical nepotistic Republican "jobs for the boys" scam, but we don't know that.

I wonder what else they've been doing.

Since the Governor has so proactively pardoned everybody - even those who are not yet under investigation - we'll probably never find out.

What a fine example of good governance.

No doubt all the other Governors are looking on, ready to spread this example of Best Practice to their own states.

What remedy is left when there is no rule of law?
posted by cleardawn at 12:18 PM on August 30, 2005


From RichardP's info, it would appear that the governor believes his cronies could have violated at least 12 different statutes, plus the Kentucky penal code as well - so it's not like they just made one or two minor clerical errors here...
posted by cleardawn at 12:22 PM on August 30, 2005


delmoi: I would think they'd be able to be held in contempt of court if they don't testify, and possibly be charged with perjury, since the pardon dosn't pardon them for future crimes.

Yes, that was my point. Because they've been pardoned they now must testify if called before the grand jury since they no longer invoke the 5th. However, as I mentioned (and davy elucidates), they now can testify in an uncooperative manner with little to fear (as long as they do, in fact, testify).
posted by RichardP at 12:28 PM on August 30, 2005


Yes, we're talking about appointments based on connections, and not on merit.

But the big point Davy made in one of his original links is that the previous Governor, Paul Patton, a Democrat, pardoned his chief of staff and two others who were indicted in September 1998 for alleged campaign-finance violations in the 1995 governor's race.

The GOP were outraged! That's when lieutenant governor candidate Steve Pence said that this sort of thing would never happen under a Fletcher/Pence administration.
posted by tizzie at 12:28 PM on August 30, 2005


cleardawn, good point: at first it looked like "Watergate" was just a simple little burglary.

"What remedy is left when there is no rule of law?"

Well... (Note: that's a joke.)

(And tizzie, actually that was vidiot.)
posted by davy at 12:36 PM on August 30, 2005


Funny joke.
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:37 PM on August 30, 2005


I know, I caught that. Vidiot will forgive me :)
posted by tizzie at 12:39 PM on August 30, 2005


No doubt all the other Governors are looking on, ready to spread this example of Best Practice to their own states.

Not just other governors!
posted by tizzie at 12:46 PM on August 30, 2005


For those who are concerned, Blue Grass Report quotes many people talking about impeachment and a Federal investigation. Seems like a good use of those tools of Democracy.
posted by alms at 12:55 PM on August 30, 2005


Vidiot will forgive me :)

Of course I will!

And to quote from a Cincy Post story tizzie sent to me:
The governor expects the controversy to blow over before the next campaign season, said Barbara Bardes, a resident of Rabbit Hash, Ky., and an American politics professor at the University of Cincinnati.

"It's a very long time to the next election," she said.

Throughout the controversy, Kentuckians have remained relatively disinterested, Bardes said. She suggested that it could be because the charges of political favors the individuals were facing were "nothing new in Kentucky."
Sad, but true.
posted by Vidiot at 1:03 PM on August 30, 2005


Wife: "Why are you fucking the family dog?!
Me (buckling pants, blushing and waving her off): "I would like this to be a new day."

(sorry - just needed to put this in terms I could understand)
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 1:09 PM on August 30, 2005


If the governor does it, it is not a crime.
*smirk

Boy I bet (Da Chicago Mere) Richie Daley wishes he was governor. Kinda nice to see some administrations take it in the keister for corruption.

So what's the recourse? I mean, if your a governor, you can pardon people, even if it's unethical. Should that power be taken away? Can the court overrule that?
Seems to me there should be something more than just voting him out...
posted by Smedleyman at 1:13 PM on August 30, 2005


Oh, and the timing of this pardon announcement? During a major disaster that will consume the news cycles for days. Call me a cynic, but I don't think that's a coincidence.
posted by tizzie at 1:17 PM on August 30, 2005


Man, this is what happens if you don't watch these bastards every minute. And people wonder why I'm an anarchist...
posted by languagehat at 2:06 PM on August 30, 2005


Kevin, um, you do know that's a male dog and you're now a Republican, right? Hehehe.
posted by fenriq at 2:08 PM on August 30, 2005


As a Kentuckian, may I say this governor is not taking responsibility for anything. He's another corrupt Kentucky politician who got caught with his hand in the cookie jar and is trying hard to avoid responsibility for anything. What's amazing is how tone deaf he's been to the possible reactions. He may have a medical degree, but he's a complete dumbass.

People in this state are surprisingly pissed off about this issue. I mean, we're almost used to officials hijacking the mechanism of government for private gain, but this has really steamed a lot of people. Here in Louisville, there seems to be a lot of backlash against Repugs in general that seems to be playing into the whole thing. My state representative is talking impeachment and I've sent an email encouraging that.
posted by Mcable at 2:16 PM on August 30, 2005


Don't worry about backlash. There'll be a massive campaign to blame liberals and gays and the people's attention will shift.
posted by HiveMind at 3:53 PM on August 30, 2005


It can't be constitutional to pardon someone that hasn't been indicted yet.
posted by machaus at 8:06 PM on August 30, 2005


KevinSkomsvold for dog-catcher!
posted by trondant at 8:49 PM on August 30, 2005


Unbridled Arrogance should be the new slogan of the Fletcher administration. Great line.
posted by tizzie at 10:10 AM on August 31, 2005


And by the way, I was reminded I should have pointed this out in the first place: since the Merit System was instituted about 30 years ago, the "legitimate" way for Kentucky's politicians and political machines to reward "helpful" people is by hiring them for non-merit "discretionary" jobs -- which everybody knows you got because of your "connection" and that you should expect to be fired from by whoever beats your "connection" in the next election. What Fletcher's people were caught doing is using the merit jobs that way (and even firing "non-contributing" people to make room), which is illegal. The Merit System is supposed to be about hiring people for real jobs based on their skills, experience and aptitude, not about crap like this, this or this.

I know, extortion, bribery, nepotism and ignoring inconvenient rules are all part of "politics as usual", but should they be?
posted by davy at 9:55 PM on August 31, 2005


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