Second complaint of illegal soliciting of campaign contributions is made, but documents show terminations not politically motivated

08/04/2011 05:29 PM

A second complaint of soliciting non-merit employees for campaign cash has surfaced from a protected merit employee.

Dennis Gardner, a 12-year Transportation Cabinet employee, told CNHI News that his boss, Transportation Cabinet Department of Highways Division Director Boyd Sigler, was fired because he didn’t make a campaign contribution to Governor Steve Beshear after he was asked to do so by Chuck Geveden.

CNHI News Reporter Ronnie Ellis reported Gardner sent a letter to the attorney general’s office asking for an investigation.

But there appears to be more to this story. Pure Politics found a nearly year-long investigation into the Department of Highways that was conducted by the Transportation Cabinet Inspector General’s office.

An investigation report showed Sigler and Gardner were being investigated for multiple wrongdoings, including claiming time spent working that wasn’t, retaliation, mismanagement, racial harassment and other allegations.

Gardner alleged in his letter to the attorney general that Sigler was fired on July 22 for not writing a campaign check. The report shows that Sigler was fired on July 22. Since Sigler was a non-merit employee, his termination letter lists his termination to be “without cause,” leaving him with no right to appeal the firing to the Personnel Board.

But the report shows Sigler was consistently late to work while he claimed he had arrived on time. In fact, Sigler on several occasions marked on his time sheet that he had arrived at work, but the timestamp from his electronic badge that allowed him in the building showed he wasn’t in the building yet.

Sigler also admitted to investigators that he allowed employees to go home early around Christmas without taking leave time, and allowed employees to work from home without the cabinet secretary’s permission.

The report showed Sigler improperly got free passes to Kentucky Speedway to take his daughter to see a Hillary Duff concert.

Sigler was a 34-year veteran of the Transportation Cabinet.

The investigation discovered that Gardner claimed work time when he wasn’t working and lied on his timecard. Gardner was also found to have slept at work, but denied he did so to investigators. Gardner also faces termination as a result of this investigation.

But he told Ellis that he was getting fired because he knew too much about the alleged campaign solicitations.

The allegations from Gardner follows accusations by a state Justice Department employee that some of his colleagues were urged by a higher up to contribute to Beshear’s campaign.

On Monday, Department of Juvenile Justice Department employee Rodney Young claimed that the cabinet’s Deputy Secretary Charles Geveden made improper fundraising calls to 13 cabinet employees.

Young provided the names to the attorney general and Republican Party of Kentucky.

Republican Party Chairman Steve Robertson filed a complaint about the Justice Cabinet situation with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance. It’s illegal for a campaign to specifically target state employees with fundraising calls, whether they are non-merit employees or merit employees.

The Kentucky Democratic Party issued a statement today — perhaps prematurely —saying that complaint had been dismissed.

KDP spokesman Matt McGrath downplayed the gravity of the Transportation Cabinet allegations.

Officials at the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance wouldn’t comment for this story.
But Pure Politics talked to Robertson, who filed the complaint.

He said the complaint is still being investigated.

-Reporting by Kenny Colston and Lanny Brannock. Video production by Kenny Colston


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