Ethics Commission takes no action on Johnson's complaint over homeless voting policy

09/20/2011 10:53 AM

Kentucky’s Executive Branch Ethics Commission has “taken no action” on a complaint filed by Republican secretary of state candidate Bill Johnson over a policy because the commission decided it doesn’t have the jurisdiction to proceed, Johnson told Pure Politics today.

“They took no action,” Johnson said. “They felt it was not in their jurisdiction and felt it was a legal matter for the courts.”

Johnson said he wouldn’t pursue the issue in the court system because it would take time and money away from campaigning. Johnson is facing Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes in the November election.

“I’m going to win the election and change the policy,” Johnson said, adding that he would make revoking the homeless voting policy his first action.

At issue is a letter the Kentucky Board of Elections issued over the summer to county clerks saying homeless voters who list their address as “in car” or “place to place” could be registered as voters in the precinct of the county courthouse. Johnson has interpreted Kentucky’s constitution to mean that a resident must show an address in order to qualify as a voter.

Johnson challenged the policy through the ethics complaint in July against Secretary of State Elaine Walker, who chairs the Kentucky Board of Elections.

Grimes said In a debate with Johnson Monday night on Kentucky Educational Television that the ethics commission dismissed Johnson’s complaint against the board of elections over the

“That’s a lie, a flat out lie,” Johnson said. “What we need more than anything else in higher office is people with integrity. And Alison Grimes is lying to the people of Kentucky.”

But Grimes campaign shot back Tuesday morning, saying Johnson still doesn’t grasp the issue. And Grimes spokesman Jonathan Hurst said he doesn’t think his candidate said anything misleading in the KET debate.

“What Alison stated in last night’s forum was clearly accurate,” Hurst told Pure Politics. “Mr. Johnson’s attempt to manipulate this issue has once again failed.

“He clearly doesn’t understand the process that when the commission doesn’t take action that means there is not enough evidence or merit in the case.”

Hurst pointed that former Republican Secretary of State, Trey Grayson, also agreed with the current policy on homeless voting in place, which Johnson takes issue with.

And Hurst added that he believes people running for higher office should have a “better understanding” of how things work if they are going to campaign.

Johnson has made the issue a cornerstone of his campaign, saying on the campaign trail, “no address, no vote.”

Chris Kellogg, a spokeswoman for Walker, said by e-mail that her office received notice that the commission would not investigate further yesterday. Walker has maintained that all she was doing was enforcing a policy that was put in place by previous secretaries of state.

The Executive Branch Ethics Commission could have chosen to investigate further the complaint or dismiss it outright. By “taking no action” it essentially passes on the issue.

-Reporting by Kenny Colston


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