LRC

Kentucky LRC

An attorney representing three state workers says Kentucky has settled a sexual harassment lawsuit against current and former state lawmakers for $400,000.

Thomas Clay says the Legislative Research Commission agreed to pay Yolanda Costner, Cassaundra Cooper and Nicole Cusic the money to end the lawsuit.

Costner and Cooper said former Democratic state Rep. John Arnold touched them inappropriately. Cusic said she was demoted after complaining that state Rep. Will Coursey sexually harassed some female staffers.

Arnold and Coursey have denied the allegations and did not admit guilt as part of the settlement. The agreement simply satisfies the claims.

State lawmakers are in the process of hiring a new director for the Legislative Research Commission.

Kentucky LRC

A Franklin County judge has denied the request of lieutenant governor candidate Sannie Overly to seal her deposition in a legislative sexual harassment case.

The Lexington Herald-Leader said Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate on Wednesday also denied a similar request by former Legislative Research Commission director Bobby Sherman and granted  motions by The Courier-Journal and the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting to intervene.

Louisville lawyer Thomas Clay, who represents two women who brought the harassment case against a former lawmaker, has said he wants to ask Overly about any sexual harassment she might have experienced in the legislature.

Overly is running on a ticket with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jack Conway. Her lawyer, Anita Britton of Lexington, has said if the deposition became public, Overly's words could be taken out of context for political reasons.

Kentucky LRC

The Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting and The Courier-Journal have filed a motion to intervene in an ongoing sexual harassment lawsuit filed against the Legislative Research Commission by two former staffers of the agency.

The media organizations are trying to bring to light depositions of former Legislative Research Commission director Bobby Sherman and state Rep. Sannie Overly, a Paris Democrat.

Overly is scheduled to be deposed on Monday and Sherman was deposed on Wednesday. They have tried to keep the depositions sealed, citing privacy concerns.

Sherman announced his resignation from the LRC in September 2013, following the conclusion of an internal probe into allegations that former state Rep. John Arnold, a Democrat from Sturgis, sexually harassed statehouse employees.

According to documents filed in the lawsuit in Franklin Circuit Court, Arnold also inappropriately touched Overly, who is currently running for lieutenant governor on the ticket headed by current state Attorney General Jack Conway.

State House Democrats are pushing to make changes to the troubled Legislative Research Commission, as recommended in the draft of an audit of the state agency released last month. The report said staffers took issue with the LRC’s pay structure and hiring practices, which were described as opaque and unfair.

Rep. James Kay, a Democrat from Versailles and a former LRC staffer, filed a bill that would create a personnel policy for the LRC. During a recent committee hearing, Kay said the LRC has no such policy.

“The NCSL draft audit only confirmed what I hear at my House, in these halls, and I know from my own time working here,” Kay said.

The bill would establish a classification and compensation system for staffers and would require job openings to be posted online for 30 days.

ky.gov

An audit of Kentucky's state government by the National Conference of State Legislatures is currently under “review” by political leaders in the commonwealth, but the report hasn’t been made public.

A spokesman for the NCSL says a preliminary draft of their report was delivered on April 25 to Marcia Seiler, the acting director of the Legislative Research Commission, and to members of state House and Senate leadership.

The LRC authorized a $42,000 audit in December following allegations that it improperly handled claims of sexual harassment by former Rep. John Arnold. Arnold was fined this year by a state ethics board after it found him guilty of the charges.

Recently, the LRC extended its contract with the NCSL through June of 2015, to accommodate the longer review process. The legal counsel for GOP state Senate President Stivers says that will not cost any extra taxpayer money.

Louisville Rep. Tom Riner has been an outspoken opponent of the secrecy of what he calls a culture of harassment in Frankfort. He said he hasn’t seen the audit, but has a theory why it hasn’t been released yet.

A Franklin Circuit Court Judge will order depositions in a lawsuit against a Kentucky lawmaker.

Judge Thomas Wingate will order Rep. Will Coursey, a Democrat from Symsonia, to provide a deposition in the suit brought against him by Nicole Cusic.

Cusic is an employee of the Legislative Research Commission who has alleged Coursey and former LRC director Bobby Sherman retaliated against her after she complained to her superiors that Coursey was allegedly behaving inappropriately with female interns.

Coursey has filed a counter-motion. It accuses Cusic of slander and defamation. Attorneys are waiting to see if it will be added to this case.

Ex-LRC Head Confirms He Destroyed Documents

Sep 24, 2013

The former director of Kentucky's Legislative Research Commission says he returned to his office over the weekend and shredded paperwork.

Robert Sherman told The Courier-Journal that the documents included "personalized stuff" such as old salary comparisons. He said none of the paperwork involved anything to do with the sexual harassment allegations involving a former lawmaker or any investigations the agency is involved in.

Sherman's actions have raised concerns among lawmakers, who say he should have gotten permission before destroying the documents and allowed some independent oversight.

Sherman said others, including Deputy LRC Director Robert Jenkins, were present when the documents were shredded.

Jenkins said only extra copies of paperwork that were in Sherman's office were shredded as it was cleaned out. He said all the documents are in other LRC files.

The Associated Press reports the Kentucky Court of Appeals has been asked to reinstate recently enacted legislative district lines after a judge found they don't meet Constitutional muster. The Legislative Research Commission today told the Appellate Court that Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd overstepped his authority in throwing out the new lines and ordering lawmakers to run in existing districts.