Former Kentucky state Rep. John Arnold has filed an appeal in an ethics case in which he was found guilty of abusing his office by sexually harassing three female state House employees.
Arnold’s attorney filed an appeal in Franklin Circuit Court on Monday asking a judge to rescind a public reprimand and $3,000 in fines levied against the former lawmaker by a state ethics panel last month.
The appeal claims that the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission acted outside of its jurisdiction when it ruled against Arnold because he was not a sitting member of the legislature at the time of the trial.
After a nearly seven-month investigation, Kentucky State Police say they have found no evidence that former Legislative Research Commission Executive Director Bobby Sherman shredded work-related documents to cover-up information on sexual harassment within the state legislature.
KSP Trooper Paul Blanton says the acting detective on the case has finished his investigation and concluded that Sherman's activities weren't illegal and didn't involve a cover-up of sexual harassment by former state Rep. John Arnold or other lawmakers.
“The investigation into the destruction of documents to conceal this physical assault or sexual assault--there was no evidence of that."
Blanton says state police will release the case files sometime in the next two weeks.
After hours of deliberation and sparring with his defense attorney—not to mention the news media—a full quorum of the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission on Wednesday voted to reprimand and fine former state Rep. John Arnold.
It was the second, and final, hearing in the ethics case brought against the Union County Democrat by female state House staffers. The panel voted 5-1 across three separate complaints to find Arnold guilty of violating state ethics rules. The commission found that he used his position to sexually harass and assault three employees of the state Legislative Research Commission over a period of years. In its votes, the commission reprimanded Arnold for his behavior and fined him a total of $3,000—or $1,000 for each complaint.
A member of the legislative ethics commission says he is stepping down from his position due to the panel's handling of a case involving former state Rep. John Arnold.
Vernie McGaha told The Courier-Journal that he already sent his resignation letter, but was persuaded by Senate President Robert Stivers to remain on the commission until it decides whether to reconsider Arnold's case. Three women testified during a hearing before the panel that Arnold sexually harassed them.
The commission voted 4-1 to find Arnold guilty. But state law requires at least five "yes" votes from the nine member commission to convict. Three commissioners did not attend the hearing and one seat is vacant.
The commission is expected to take up the case again at its next meeting on Wednesday.
The ethics trial against former Kentucky legislator John Arnold may continue. Because the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission did not consider a motion to dismiss the case against the Sturgis Democrat in a hearing last week, the case may go forward.
The panel voted 4-1 last week to find Arnold guilty of ethics violations stemming from charges that he sexually harassed female state House staffers. Because nearly half of its members were absent for the hearing, and five votes were required for a motion to pass, Arnold was let off.
The commission will consider the issue at its next meeting on May 7th.
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.
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.
The ethics trial involving a former Union County lawmaker accused of sexually harassing female state employees will begin Tuesday.
Three of the women who brought formal ethics complaints against former Rep. John Arnold, a Democrat from Sturgis, are expected to testify at Tuesday’s adjudicatory hearing that will determine whether or not Arnold violated state ethics laws.
Thomas Clay is an attorney for the women, and he expects the proceedings to go by the numbers.
“Well I think it’s going to be a typical administrative hearing," the attorney said. "I think they’ll call witnesses. They’ll be subject to direct examination and cross examination, and then the commission will deliberate and make a decision, and hopefully the process will play out.”
Calls to Arnold’s Bowling Green attorney, Steve Downey, were not returned. Downey has informed Kentucky Public Radio in the past that Arnold will likely not appear at any hearing due to what he says are Arnold’s declining mental and physical health.
An upcoming special election for state representative in the Daviess County region is causing confusion partly due to recent legislative redistricting.
Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce President Amy Jackson told the Messenger-Inquirer that many people aren't sure whether they can vote in the Dec. 10 election. The chamber is heading up a drive encouraging people to cast ballots.
The Daviess County Clerk's office recently drew new borders in 17 of the 20 local districts and sent out cards to affected voters, but Jackson says there's still confusion about who can vote.
Voters will chose between Republican Suzanne Miles of Owensboro and Democrat Kim Humphrey of Morganfield. They are running to fill the 7th district House seat, formerly held by Democrat John Arnold of Sturgis, who stepped down after being accused of sexual harassment.
The seat covers Union and parts of Daviess and Henderson counties.
The first hearing in the sexual harassment lawsuit against former state Rep. John Arnold and elements of Kentucky state government revolved Wednesday around determining which parties should be accused.
The hearing resulted in a delay in the trial until later this month
Franklin Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wingate heard a motion to dismiss filed in October by Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway, who argued that the state is "legally indistinguishable" from the Legislative Research Commission, which is also a defendant in the suit brought by female LRC employees who allege Arnold sexually harassed and assaulted them.
In their lawsuit, filed Oct. 1, Yolanda Costner and Cassaundra Cooper named the state and the LRC as defendants.
The Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission has found probable cause that former Union County Representative John Arnold violated ethics rules three times when he allegedly harassed three female staff members.
Commission members met behind closed doors for nearly two hours Tuesday before returning to an open session and voting unanimously on sexual harassment complaints made against Arnold by legislative staffers Yolanda Costner, Cassaundra Cooper, and Gloria Morgan. The Courier-Journal reports the commission has scheduled a full hearing on the complaints for December 12.
Arnold, a Democrat from Sturgis, served in the state House from 1995 until last month, when he resigned after the sexual harassment allegations against him were made public. Arnold has denied the charges, but said he couldn’t move forward politically due to the damage done to his reputation.
The Legislative Ethics Commission said there was probable cause to believe Arnold had “inappropriate and unwanted physical contact” with the women.
Arnold’s attorney, Steve Downey of Bowling Green, didn’t comment after the commission returned its findings.