Saturday, May 19, 2007

EXCLUSIVE: Hiring investigation's origins were rooted in perceived personal snub

Feeling personally slighted because Gov. Ernie Fletcher did not remember him as a high school classmate, and angered because he was unable to parlay that scholastic connection into a leadership position at the Transportation Cabinet, former employee Doug Doerting turned over “evidence” of hiring improprieties to Attorney General Greg Stumbo only after having assured Transportation officials that all their personnel moves were legal and proper, and after improperly collecting the documents he provided to Stumbo.

Fletcher recently revealed this to a group of supporters, and also told them that the mainstream press has been aware of these circumstances since the hiring investigation began two years ago, but has failed to report these truths because they reflect positively on the Fletcher administration and negatively on Doerting, who has received almost no public scrutiny considering his motives and how he came to be in possession of the information he gave Stumbo.

Political observers know that Fletcher and Doerting were classmates at Lafayette High School. Scans of a high school yearbook showing both of them on the same page have been published on the Internet. However, the two didn’t know one another and were not friends.

It has also been reported that when Fletcher attended an event in the Transportation Cabinet office shortly after his term began, Doerting approached him and asked the governor if he remembered him from high school. When Fletcher replied in the negative, witnesses have said, Doerting appeared deflated and seemed upset at what he perceived as a snub.

“We were schoolmates, but it was a big school, with nearly 700 in the graduating class,” Fletcher told a group of supporters recently. "I didn't remember him."

No doubt Doerting had told people in Transportation that he had known the governor back when they were in high school. The governor’s failure to remember him had to sting.

Still, Doerting hoped to be able to use the connection to land a management position in the cabinet.

“He wanted to be director of personnel in Transportation,” Fletcher said, “but I didn’t know him.”

So Doerting took his revenge.

You may remember this piece from December in which we publicly questioned how Doerting came to obtain his evidence which he presented to Stumbo.

Turns out we aren’t the only ones. The governor also has questions as to whether or not Doerting obtained the e-mails illegally.

But what concerns Fletcher more is Doerting’s deceit.

“He told Dick Murgatroyd (former Transportation deputy secretary) that everything that was being done regarding personnel was legal and proper,” Fletcher said. “Then he turned around and gave all that information to Stumbo, and we still don’t know how he got it or if he got it legally.”

Fletcher also said that these facts had been repeatedly given to the state’s leading newspapers, but they are not interested in pursing that story, which would serve to discredit Doerting.

Shortly after handing the information to Stumbo, Doerting sought whistleblower protection under state law and then retired from the Transportation Cabinet.

Also during his comments, Fletcher said he felt personally betrayed by Anne Northup’s candidacy as well as the actions of many people since he took office.

“Anne’s a friend …. well, I thought she was a friend,” Fletcher said with an obvious look of sadness on his face, “but there are a lot of people I thought were my friends…” he said, his voice trailing off.

Despite the setbacks and obstacles, the administration kept its eyes on the twin goals of moving Kentucky forward and winning re-election. Fletcher's health problems last winter were a setback, but they tried to keep a positive public face.

"We tried not to let that bother us," Fletcher said. "We wanted to do the right things and we believe we have. We've made some mistakes but we tried to correct them and move on."

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