Treasurer Allison Ball files lawsuit against former KRS board chairman Tommy Elliott

07/11/2016 02:02 PM

UPDATED: Republican Treasurer Allison Ball has filed a lawsuit to intervene in the case between ousted Kentucky Retirement Systems’ Board Chairman Tommy Elliott and Gov. Matt Bevin.

On Monday, Ball filed a motion in Franklin Circuit Court to intervene in the lawsuit between Elliott and Bevin. Ball is attempting to stop the former KRS Trustee from using state funds to pay for his legal counsel.

“My obligation as the State Treasurer is to the people of Kentucky and our retirees,” Ball said in a statement. “Fifty thousand hard earned pension dollars should be spent on retirees. After conducting an internal review, it is clear there is no legal authority for a removed trustee to use retiree pension money to pay for legal counsel, which is what Mr. Elliott is attempting to do.”

Elliott has challenged Bevin’s authority to remove him from his post three-years before his term was set to expire.

Last week, the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting revealed that the retirement system had agreed to pay legal fees for Elliott who was removed from his position by Bevin in April.

However, Elliott chaired a KRS trustees meeting the day after his removal, during which the board requested an opinion from Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear, according to a report by the Associated Press.

Beshear’s office released an opinion that said Bevin erred in removing Elliott before his term expired March 31, 2019. As Pure Politics previously reported, Bevin’s office noted that Beshear’s opinion isn’t legally binding and part of the Democrat’s “politically motivated decision making.”

At the following meeting in May, Kentucky State Police troopers stood guard at both entries to the KRS board room during, apparently ready to arrest Elliott if he participated in the day’s activities.

Elliott told Pure Politics at the meeting that he was confronted by Blake Brickman, Bevin’s chief of staff, and Personnel Cabinet Secretary Thomas Stephens, who sits on the KRS board, before Thursday’s meeting and threatened with arrest if he took a seat among trustees.

Retirement Systems Executive Director Bill Thielen, spoke to Pure Politics on Monday and said he had not seen Ball’s motion to intervene in the case, but he felt confident the pension system was allowed to pay Elliott’s legal fees.

“We have closely reviewed existing statues, and there is a statute that provides our board shall reimburse any trustee, or for that matter, any officer or employee any legal expense resulting in civil action arising in the performance of his official duty,“Thielen said.

Ball countered in a press release claiming KRS cannot pay the legal fees, because Elliott was fired by Bevin — a move being contested in court.

“Whether the termination of Mr. Elliott was rightful or wrongful, he has, in fact, been terminated and, therefore, cannot use $50,000 of hard earned money of Kentucky retired workers to pay for his legal challenge,” Ball said in a statement.

Download Ball’s full complaint here: 2016 07-11 Intervening Complaint.pdf

About Nick Storm

Nick Storm is the Anchor and Managing Editor of Pure Politics, the only nightly program dedicated to Kentucky politics. Nick covers all of the political heavyweights and his investigative work brings to light issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, like the connection between the high profile Steubenville, Ohio rape and a Kentucky hacker whose push for further investigation could put him in federal prison. Nick is also working on a feature length bio documentary Outlaw Poet: A documentary on Ron Whitehead. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickStorm_cn2. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or nicholas.storm@charter.com.

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