A lawsuit that seeks to invalidate Republican Gov. Matt Bevin’s budget vetoes has taken a curious detour following allegations of a dirty political trick by the House’s Democratic leadership.
House Speaker Greg Stumbo, who filed the lawsuit, wants Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd to overturn Bevin’s vetoes based on the fact that Bevin’s office filed copies of his veto paperwork rather than the originals to the Secretary of State’s office. No one has argued that the copies aren’t actually copies of the documents — only that the governor should have filed the originals with the secretary.
But an attorney for the governor said during a hearing Wednesday that Bevin’s office couldn’t file the originals. They were locked up in House Clerk Jean Burgin’s office.
“Officials in Bevin’s office say Burgin promised them she would file the vetoes with the Secretary of State,” The Associated Press reported. “But when she did not, they found Burgin had left for the day and locked the vetoes in her office.”
It was April 27, the last day the governor could legally file vetoes. Stumbo says he told the clerk she could lock the office at 4:30 p.m. because she had to leave for an appointment.
When Bevin’s staff learned that the Senate clerk had filed his vetoes but the House clerk had not, they apparently hustled over to the Secretary of State’s office with copies of the locked-up House vetoes.
“It’s the speaker’s unclean hands here in instructing the House clerk not to fulfill her commitment to take the veto messages to the Secretary of State,” said Bevin’s attorney, M. Stephen Pitt.
The judge has said the clerk’s testimony about her locked office might have no bearing on the eventual ruling about the vetoes.
Still, if Stumbo or others in the House leadership instructed the clerk to lock her door and leave so the governor’s veto paperwork wouldn’t be sent to the secretary’s office in time, we’ve seen a new low in Frankfort shenanigans.
We elect adults and send them to Frankfort to handle our state’s budget and adopt laws. Childish antics in the General Assembly are an insult to Kentuckians. Even in the hardest fought political battles over spending and policies, both sides have to respect rules of procedure and basic decency. Our state lawmakers must reject tactics that threaten our trust in the legislative process.
Kentucky New Era