Women Accusing Arnold of Sexual Harrassment Ask Commission to Reconsider Ethics Ruling

Apr 14, 2014

Former Union County Rep. John Arnold
Credit Jonathan Meador, Kentucky Public Radio

Update 12:49 p.m.
(From Associated Press report) One dissenting vote last week spared former State Rep. John Arnold from any disciplinary action stemming from multiple sexual harassment allegations against him. Now, lawmakers have taken action to try to prevent that from happening again.  

 The House voted Monday to change the rules for the ethics committee to require commission members to attend at least half of the meetings every year. The rules changes also gave the committee jurisdiction over former lawmakers.  The one commission member who voted not to punish Arnold last week says he did so because he felt the commission didn’t have the power to punish lawmakers who’d already resigned. 

Original Post

Two women who made formal sexual harassment complaints against former state Rep. John Arnold have filed a motion with the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission asking it to reconsider its ruling that cleared Arnold of ethics charges.

State employees Yolanda Costner and Cassaundra Cooper say they were not informed that only five members of the nine-member ethics panel would be present for the hearing. The panel voted 4-1 to find Arnold guilty in three complaints brought by each woman, but the commission's bylaws call for five votes to render a verdict.

Costner says that the lone vote by newly appointed panel member Elmer George unfairly tipped the scales against them.

"The question of the day was not that they didn't have jurisdiction," according to Costner. "The question was, 'is he innocent or guilty?' And one person decided that fate, and we don't think that was fair." 

The ethics commission has not reconsidered any of its rulings in nearly twenty years.