Greg Stumbo: Failing to meet a higher standard
There is a reason that it's big news when a police officer, prosecutor or judge is charged with a crime. We rightly hold those who have the responsibility of enforcing the law to a higher standard. We expect them to obey the laws they uphold.
As Kentucky's attorney general, Greg Stumbo has failed to meet that higher standard.
Stumbo has spent most of his four years in office on a political vendetta against Kentucky's first Republican governor in three decades. Stumbo eventually abandoned his pursuit of Ernie Fletcher, but not before the political damage was done. Fletcher trails in the polls in this fall's gubernatorial election and that is pretty much because of the hiring investigation. Despite the charges against Fletcher being dismissed with prejudice, the brain-damaged liberals who infest this state's Democrat and press blogs come up with cutesy little slogans like "Too Criminal For Kentucky' or call him "Fletcher the Felon," nevermind that all of the charges against him were misdemeanors.
What makes Stumbo fall short of the higher standard we expect from our prosecutors is the fact that he and his office prosecuted Fletcher and members of the administration for exactly the same kind of conduct in which Stumbo personally engaged while he was a legislator.
When he served as House floor leader and a representative from Floyd County, Stumbo traded on his political influence in an attempt to secure state merit system jobs for friends and acquaintances and friends-of-friends. There is written proof of this activity through letters sent to Gov. Paul Patton. A little investigation would probably show similar missives addressed to Brereton Jones and Wallace Wilkinson, too, as well as bureaucrats in the various state administrative agencies. And who knows how many phone calls Stumbo may have made?
The ironic thing is that Stumbo didn't stop with indicting members of Fletcher's administration. His office also succeeded in getting true bills against volunteers and political advisers who had no official job with state government and thus no authority to hire anyone. They merely recommended people for employment.
In other words, Stumbo indicted them for doing the same thing he himself had done.
This, obviously, is a personal and professional failing of Stumbo (one of many) but it is also just one of several indicators of just how flawed this whole investigation was.
Back during the primary, we posted on how the whole campaign against Fletcher was built on a house of cards. Nothing's changed. Fletcher trails in the polls merely because of a handful of personnel decisions, none of which involved improperly firing a merit system employee with status; a flawed criminal investigation led by biased prosecutors who lacked the moral authority to conduct it; and flawed indictments returned by a grand jury chock full of people who had suffered financially because of this administration's increment policies. And we have since learned of the political leanings of the circuit judge who supervised the grand jury.
And none of this takes into account the malevolent motives and dishonesty of the whistleblower who triggered the whole thing.
Now comes news that Stumbo is considering challenging U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell next year. We hope he does. It will put Stumbo's political career to rest for good. Stumbo's record has never gotten statewide scrutiny. The Republican attorney general candidate in 2003 had warts aplenty himself, so he couldln't fully vet Stumbo's history, and the Democrat gubernatorial slates' "play nice" agreement this spring silenced criticism. But McConnell is a vicious campaigner and he will expose and exploit every flaw in an opponent. And Stumbo has flaws aplenty.
We can't wait to see what Mitch's bloodhounds can sniff out on Stumbo. But in the meantime, we recognize that Stumbo has failed to meet the standards we expect our most powerful enforcement officials to uphold. He's the one who has to live with that realization, but it's too bad that the entire state has suffered because of it.