Patronage Probe

By  | 

The Chief Justice of the state Supreme Court has asked a lower court judge presiding in a misdemeanor case against Gov. Fletcher to explain why he should not step aside.

State Supreme Court Justice Joseph Lambert requested that Franklin County Circuit Judge William Guy Junior respond to an affidavit filed by Fletcher's attorneys.

Lambert said he's concerned whether a public comment Hart has made concerning the case disqualifies him as the presiding judge.

Fletcher's attorneys want Hart off the case because they think he has a potential conflict of interest.

Hart's wife is a former state employee, and Fletcher is charged with illegally rewarding political supporters with state jobs after he took office in 2003.

Fletcher is Kentucky's first Republican governor in more than three decades and was elected after running on a campaign to root out "waste, fraud, and abuse" in government and a promise to "clean up the mess" in Frankfort.

A grand jury indicted him last month on charges of criminal conspiracy, official misconduct and violating a prohibition against political discrimination.