Regional
12:38 pm
Thu September 15, 2005

Fletcher Fires 9 Over Investigation

Frankfort, KY – Governor Ernie Fletcher has sacked nine members of his administration, including one of his closest advisors, for what he now believes are violations of state merit system personnel laws.
One of those sacked was Richard Murgatroyd. Murgatroyd was Fletcher's deputy chief of staff and close friend. Fletcher says he would also ask the state Republican party to oust Darrell Brock as its chairman. Brock used to be head of Fletcher's local development office.
In a prepared statement, Fletcher apologized to people hurt by hiring mistakes.
He says he'll also disband his local outreach offices which court documents have indicated was run largely as a Fletcher re-election effort.
Four of those to be discharged are among the nine people indicted for merit law violations. Brock was also indicted for personnel violations.
Fletcher issued pardons to all nine and anyone else who might be investigated or who violated the law from the beginning of Fletcher's administration through the end of August.
Except for Murgatroyd, though, Fletcher left the highest ranking members of his administration who were indicted in their jobs, notably acting Transportation Secretary Bill Nighbert and deputy Secretary Jim Adams.
Attorney General Greg Stumbo's agents, meanwhile, have searched the Capitol office of Fletcher's chief of staff Stan Cave.
It came Wednesday while Fletcher was announcing the firings of nine staff members and while Stumbo released a lengthy interview agents had last month with fired Fletcher aide Dan Druen.
Remarks by Druen in the state hiring investigation and other records suggest that Fletcher and Cave both closely followed the "Governor's Personnel Initiative". Prosecutors say the Governor's hiring plan was corrupt and was used to rewar Republicans with merit jobs based on their politics.
Fletcher spokeswoman Carla Blanton said the Governor's office would not respond to the information filed in court. She says Fletcher never instructed anyone in his administration to violate the law against political influence in merit hiring.