A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Republicans will appeal judge’s decision to uphold Beshear’s appointment power over ethics panel

By Jack Brammer
NKyTribune reporter

Republican officials will appeal a Kentucky judge’s decision that struck down a new law that curbs Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s appointment authority over the Executive Branch Ethics Commission.

Robert Stivers and Andy Beshear

Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said Tuesday the judge’s ruling would be appealed. The office of Attorney General Daniel Cameron, a Republican who wants to unseat Beshear next year as governor, also said the ruling by Jefferson Circuit Judge McKay Chauvin will be appealed.

The judge ruled in favor of Beshear’s lawsuit against House Bill 334, which the Republican-controlled legislature approved this year and overrode a veto of it by Beshear.

The new law was to take effect Thursday but will not now with the judge’s ruling.

The measure would remove all five current members of the Executive Branch Ethics Commission appointed by Beshear and allow five other constitutional officers – attorney general, secretary of state, state treasurer, state auditor, and agriculture commissioner – to each make one appointment. The governor would make two appointments.

The Executive Branch Ethics Commission oversees the ethics code for executive branch employees. The code was created in 1992. The commission is an independent agency of the state.

Daniel Cameron

“The Kentucky General Assembly established the Executive Branch Ethics Commission and maintains the constitutional authority to modify its enabling statute,” he said.

Judge Chauvin said the law was unconstitutional in that it shifts power from the governor to other constitutional officers who are not charged with the duty to ensure the state’s executive branch code is carried out.

Beshear’s lawsuit said the new law prevents the governor from faithfully executing the laws to make sure that the commission properly executes the ethics laws and regulations of the state.

He called it “a power grab” and noted that the state’s lieutenant governor, a Democrat, would be the only constitutional officer with no appointment to the commission.

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