As Ky. GOP seeks to take House in 2014, Stumbo says Democrats can defend themselves on ethics

11/15/2013 12:13 PM

House Democrats are bracing for Republicans to may political hay next year out of ethics issues that have dogged members of the Democratic majority caucus and are preparing a deflection defense.

It’s inside baseball, House Speaker Greg Stumbo essentially said in an interview with Pure Politics this week.

“I don’t think people look at that. I think people look at what you’ve done overall,” Stumbo said in response to questions about some of the ethical issues that have faced individual House Democrats.

Former Rep. John Arnold of Sturgis resigned in September amid allegations that he sexually harassed female legislative staffers. In one of the complaints, one of the staff members said she informed another House Democrat, Rep. John Will Stacy of West Liberty, about one of the incidents involving Arnold, and Stacy dismissed it. And Rep. W. Keith Hall, D-Phelps, has faced several ethics questions, including a $2,000 fine from the Legislative Ethics Commission in 2011 for diverting coal severance tax funding to a sewer project that one of his companies was working on. House leaders promoted Hall in January to chair the House Tourism Development and Energy Committee.

House Republicans have begun to say that such things happen when one party runs a chamber for more than 90 years as Democrats have done in the state House.

Stumbo’s rebuttal was that voters won’t “buy into” Republicans’ arguments because they don’t want the same divisiveness in Frankfort that he says the GOP has demonstrated in Washington.

He added later that the controversy surrounding Arnold and others “doesn’t have any effect on policies.” (2:00 of the interview)

“John Arnold may have acted improperly. Does that mean everybody is going to be guilty of acting improperly?” Stumbo asked rhetorically.

On the Arnold situation, Stumbo said he believes Legislative Research Officials handled the allegations properly (3:30) and why he wasn’t sold that former director Bobby Sherman was the right pick for that job in the first place (4:00).

Stumbo said in the interview that he supports including sexual harassment training as part of Kentucky lawmakers’ annual ethics training. But he stopped short of saying he’s ready to support changes to LRC policies to bar lawmakers or LRC supervisors from having relationships with employees.

About Ryan Alessi

Ryan Alessi joined cn|2 in May 2010 as senior managing editor and host of Pure Politics. He has covered politics for more than 10 years, including 7 years as a reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Follow Ryan on Twitter @cn2Alessi. Ryan can be reached at 502-792-1135 or


  • viewer wrote on November 15, 2013 12:44 PM :

    Looking at Stumbo, Adkins , and Hall together in this picture with the word ethics is Priceless !!! Looks like a FBI most wanted poster to me….The viewer

  • Michael Adams wrote on November 15, 2013 01:48 PM :

    Stumbo is Kentucky’s King of Corruption. In any sane world Stumbo would be an absolute pariah and Kentucky Dems would run away from him for fear of being photographed with him. It is his policies that allowed the women to be harassed rather than protected. Regardless of which version of Stumbo’s story about the recent harassment charges one thinks might be truthful—the one where Stumbo says he only heard it mentioned or the one where Stumbo says he was on top of the matter from the start—there is no excuse for Stumbo not to have fixed the system after the Kent Downey scandals. Now we are paying the price for empowering Stumbo because his refusal to reform the blatantly broken system now requires the LRC to hire attorney’s to defend against lawsuits they should have prevented by adequately protecting their employees. Anyone who votes for Stumbo’s continued leadership or campaigns with him is going to pay for it politically next year.

    Stumbo doesn’t want to fix the problem BECAUSE STUMBO IS THE PROBLEM. He is married to a woman who worked at the Kent Downey LRC. He was one of Downey’s roommates at the party house Kent Downey rented for legislators in Frankfort. He stood by his old friend and roommate Kent Downey when LRC staffers filed complaints and he stood by Downey even after he was convicted of promoting prostitution and gambling:

    “House Majority Leader Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, and Mike Bowling, D-Middlesboro, said Downey had been a dedicated employee who should be judged on his whole life, not just one or two mistakes.” (Bill Estep and Jack Brammer, “Downey Spared Prison Sentence,” Lexington Herald-Leader, August 20, 1998.)

    Some clips from Herald Leader article on the Downey scandal (apparently these things are not enough to merit fixing the system from Stumbo’s warped perspective):

    “Offers of state jobs in return for sex. Drinking and partying in a state office. Topless-club workers on the public payroll.”
    “A lawmaker’s brother wearing a stripper’s shirt and earrings while she danced around in her bra.”
    “Those are among the red flags that three employees of the Legislative Research Commission said they raised about LRC aide Kent Downey in April 1996, six months before authorities raided Downey’s Capitol office looking for evidence in a prostitution investigation.”
    “Griffith said a woman told her during the 1994 legislative session that Downey promised her a full-time job ‘if she would agree to sex.’”
    “Griffith said the woman refused, But Downey called her at home to ask whether she would have sex with a legislator. Another woman later told her of a similar proposition from 1994, Griffin said.”
    “Downey showed one woman topless photos and “asked her if her breasts looked like these breasts,” Griffin said.”
    “Downey was close to several House lawmakers, and bragged he’d be there as long as certain people remained in office, the three employees said.”
    (Source: Bill Estep, “3 at LRC Say Downey’s Office Was Party Scene,” Lexington Herald-Leader, December 10, 1997.)

    Stumbo is a man who filed a baseless lawsuit against a woman to punish her because she made him pay child support for the son he fathered while cheating on his first wife.

    Page One Kentucky recently had an article showing a deed where Stumbo bought a $327,500 house for $1 (he listed the house on his Financial Disclosure property section but did not list any gift). The woman who sold him the house listed former state senator and former Lt. Governor candidate Thomas Ward’s address on the deed—who worked for a few of the companies owned by the Addingtons. But the MSM ignore it.

    And the MSM ignore Stumbo’s and other Kentucky Dems’ routine plagiarism, even while attacking Senator Rand Paul. Kentucky’s media routinely publish plagiarized articles submitted by Democrats Greg Stumbo (speaker of the KY House and former KY Attorney General), RJ Palmer (Minority Leader of the KY Senate), Daniel Mongiardo (Former Lt. Gov.), Julian Carroll (former Gov. and current KY State Senator), Rocky Adkins (KY House Majority Leader), Johnny Ray Turner, Rick Rand, Joey Pendleton, Rita Smart, Jim Gooch, and others. But the liberal media ignore all the plagiarism by multiple KY Dems. Of course, they have to ignore it: they are the ones acting as the Dems’ press office by dutifully publishing it.

    In 2004 Stumbo went out of his way to obtain a waiver in order to hire Bethanie Fisher as a non-merit employee for his Attorney General Office, while attacking Governor Fletcher for politically motivated hiring of non-merit employees. (Mary Karen is reported to have been Bethanie’s roommate when working at the LRC.) Bethanie worked clerical positions. She was fired during the Kent Downey scandal and it was known that she had lied on her resume in the past. Yet Stumbo characterized her as essential when seeking a waiver to hire her.

    And I could go on and on about Stumbo, citing his arrest for DUI and subsequent special treatment, his failure to list ownership of a racehorse and other items on his financial disclosure statements, etc.

    If Kentucky Dems think they will not be held accountable by voters for enabling Stumbo’s continued reign as Kentucky’s King of Corruption, then by all means continue to vote for him to be Speaker and campaign with him and take plenty of pictures to post on the net. I can hardly wait for the 2014 elections. Because I think voters will agree with me and Senator Kathy Stein (now Judge Kathy Stein), who called on Stumbo’s handling of the latest harassment claims to be investigated.

  • OMG! wrote on November 18, 2013 09:49 PM :

    When it comes to ethics, Stumbo follows the 3D’s rule: Delay, Deny, Destroy.

  • Cumberland Gap wrote on November 19, 2013 10:38 AM :

    So a dirty old pervert harasses two females who filed suits and it is the Democrats fault? Are you sure it’s not Obama’s fault? Sexual harassment doesn’t follow political party labels.

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