May 11, 2006

Kentucky governor indicted over political hiring

LOUISVILLE, Kentucky (Reuters) - A grand jury indicted
Republican Gov. Ernie Fletcher on Thursday with illegally
hiring workers on the basis of their political allegiance.

Fletcher has denounced the probe of his administration as
politically motivated.

In the indictment handed up by the Franklin County grand
jury, Fletcher was charged with three misdemeanors punishable
by up to a year in jail -- conspiracy, official misconduct and
violating a prohibition against political discrimination.

Fletcher was elected governor in 2003, the first Republican
since 1967 to capture the post, and 13 members of his
administration have been charged with replacing some state
employees with Republican loyalists. State law forbids the
awarding of jobs on the basis of political clout except for
some high-ranking jobs.

In August, Fletcher declared a blanket pardon for anyone
except himself to be charged in the yearlong probe led by
Kentucky Attorney General Greg Stumbo, a Democrat.