ICYMI: KY Lieutenant Governor Staffer Was Investigating Matt Bevin Before She Was Fired
In case you missed it, Kentucky Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton’s deputy chief of staff was investigating who in the Bevin administration was responsible for her colleague’s suspicious dismissal and was then fired.
This news is the latest in the ongoing feud between Gov. Matt Bevin and Lt. Gov. Hampton. The Bevin administration has a pattern of dismissing of the lieutenant governor’s staffers without explanation, prompting Lt. Gov. Hampton to say she is battling “dark forces” within the Bevin administration. Bevin has some work to do to unite the Kentucky GOP after barely garnering over 50 percent of the vote in his party’s primary. And this family feud certainly isn’t helping.
Read excerpts from the breaking news below:
Courier Journal: Jenean Hampton’s aide was investigating Gov. Bevin’s authority before she was fired
Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton’s deputy chief of staff began digging into the circumstances behind the dismissal of the office’s chief of staff, Steve Knipper, in February.
By late May, Adrienne Southworth also found herself out of work.
It is unclear if Hampton ordered Southworth to look into the circumstances behind Knipper’s firing or if she was doing so on her own. Knipper, who lost the Republican primary, is appealing his termination to the state.
Southworth, a non-merit employee who could be fired without cause, was terminated by way of a May 30 letter from a finance cabinet official. She told the Courier Journal, in her only media interviews, last month that she isn’t sure why she was sacked.
In a political twist that may have stung the administration, Southworth went to Attorney General Andy Beshear — who is running against Bevin in the 2019 contest — to complain that she was being met “by delay after delay in addition to strange limits on inspection” of those records, according to the documents.
Beshear’s office, in response, ruled that Bevin’s administration had violated the state Open Records Act.
Southworth’s request and complaint provide possible clues into her firing, which is the source of a public feud between Bevin and Hampton, who asked Kentuckians for prayers “as I battle dark forces” in the administration.
In a Facebook post, Southworth’s husband accused the governor of being directly involved in his wife’s firing. He also alleges Bevin personally threatened Hampton with firing his wife on “a handful of occasions.”
“My wife has worked under a culture of intimidation and harassment for three and a half years when it comes to Bevin and most of the upper echelon in his administration,” Chris Southworth’s post reads. “To say I am infuriated would be an understatement at this point.”
Hampton, who Bevin dropped from the 2019 Republican ticket for state Sen. Ralph Alvarado, has resisted the firing. She told Bevin administration officials this month that her former aide “will continue to assist me as deputy chief” and expects to receive back pay.
On May 31, the same day of Hampton’s “dark forces” tweet and a day after her firing, Southworth made another open records request. This time she asked for the hiring forms for all of Hampton’s staff compared to the previous four lieutenant governors.