Friday, May 12, 2006

Kentucky governor indicted over political hiring

Kentucky governor indicted over political hiring

LOUISVILLE, Kentucky (Reuters) - A grand jury indicted Republican Gov. Ernie Fletcher on Thursday with illegally hiring workers on the basis of their political allegiance.

Fletcher has denounced the probe of his administration as politically motivated.

In the indictment handed up by the Franklin County grand jury, Fletcher was charged with three misdemeanors punishable by up to a year in jail -- conspiracy, official misconduct and violating a prohibition against political discrimination.

Fletcher was elected governor in 2003, the first Republican since 1967 to capture the post, and 13 members of his administration have been charged with replacing some state employees with Republican loyalists. State law forbids the awarding of jobs on the basis of political clout except for some high-ranking jobs.

In August, Fletcher declared a blanket pardon for anyone except himself to be charged in the yearlong probe led by Kentucky Attorney General Greg Stumbo, a Democrat.