Lexington attorney files ethics complaint against Comer over alleged misuse of state employee time

09/14/2011 09:45 AM

A Lexington attorney filed an ethics complaint against state Rep. James Comer, alleging Comer has been using a state employee to help him campaign during state business hours.

Comer is the Republican nominee for Agriculture Commissioner, running against Democrat Bob Farmer. The complaint has been made by Lexington attorney Franklin Paisley, who filed the complaint this morning with the Legislative Ethics Commission.

Paisley’s complaint alleges that Comer has tapped Michael Goins, communications director for the state House Republican Caucus, to help run his campaign while Goins is on state time.

Goins wife Beth owns and runs Blue Sky Communications, a political consulting group. Goins founded the company, but shifted ownership to his wife in July of last year, according to records filed with the Secretary of State’s office. Comer has contracted with Blue Sky to help run part of his campaign this year.

Paisley’s complaint says Michael Goins posted “partisan political comments” from his person Facebook profile as well as a profile for Blue Sky Communications onto Comer’s campaign page. Paisley says that those actions would violate state law that a candidate may not use “public funds, time or personnel for partisan political campaign activity.”

In response to the complaint, House Republican Minority Floor Leader Jeff Hoover released a statement saying he didn’t believe Goins used state time to work for Comer.

“I am confident there has been no wrongdoing on the part of Rep. Comer as alleged by his opponent,” Hoover said. “I have reviewed the allegations with our staff and LRC personnel and I have seen no evidence which causes me any concern.”

Reached by phone, Michael Goins declined to respond further and referred Pure Politics to Hoover’s statement.

Paisley’s complaint also alleged that Comer deleted the comments and “de-friended” Michael Goins to “deliberately destroy” the evidence.

But when asked if it was possible that Beth Goins, not Michael, was at least responsible for any postings from the Blue Sky Facebook profile, Paisley said the question could be turned upside down.

“How do you know it wasn’t Michael?” Paisley said.

Paisley said he filed the complaint to start an investigation to find out what really was happening with Comer’s campaign.

Comer did not respond to a voicemail left for him by press time.

-Reporting by Kenny Colston

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