Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Pardon Me!

What’s with the Republicans in the Midwest? Ohio’s governor Bob Taft pleads no contest to ethics charges, and now his good neighbor to the south, Gov. Ernie Fletcher of Kentucky, caught up in a patronage scandal, has pardoned everybody — except himself — involved in the whole thing.

Calling the investigation into personnel practices in his administration a wasteful game of political gotcha, Gov. Ernie Fletcher tonight pardoned nine current and former officials who have been indicted along with anyone who “might … be charged.”

Although he has the authority to do so, Fletcher said he will not pardon himself. Consequently, Attorney General Greg Stumbo’s office could prosecute Fletcher if the special grand jury investigating his administration’s actions were to indict him.

Scheduled to appear tomorrow before the grand jury, Fletcher said he would not answer questions.

The grand jury, Fletcher said, is a “political tool of Greg Stumbo.”

The grand jury found some administration officials violated the state’s personnel law that bars them from hiring or firing merit employees solely for political reasons. The pardons mean those cases won’t go to trial.

The governor tonight acknowledged that some senior executives in his administration made mistakes, particularly in the oversight of some overeager junior workers.

“Mistakes were made but at no time was there a cynical scheme” to displace thousands of productive employees, Fletcher said.

The nine indicted were charged with misdemeanors that Fletcher portrayed as insignificant. Only one official, former transportation administrative service commissioner Dan Druen, has been indicted on more serious felony charges – two counts of witness tampering and 20 counts of evidence tampering.

“Greg Stumbo is wasting your tax dollars,” Fletcher said.

”I cannot allow state government to be consumed by this game of political gotcha,” he added.

Well, gee, that’s mighty thoughtful of the governor: saving the hard-working taxpayers of the Bluegrass State all that money that would be wasted on looking into such trivial things such as criminal activity in his administration.

Ah, yes, the Republicans; the party who promised moral leadership and personal responsibility…as long as they don’t get caught.

(Hat tip to TPM.)