Friday, August 17, 2007

Another Ann Sheadel sighting

About three weeks ago, we discovered and revealed that a Louisville attorney contracted as a hearing officer by the state Personnel Board, who is hearing appeals rooted in the state hiring investigation, supported and made the maximum contributions to Ben Chandler in 2003.

Well surprise, surprise, it looks like Ann Sheadel has herself another gig through which she can throw darts at the administration of the governor who defeated her preferred candidate four years ago.

Sheadel is also being used as a hearing officer for the Executive Branch Ethics Commission, and news reports from late yesterday reveal her as the officer who issued a decision that was not favorable to a former Fletcher administration appointee who is facing ethics charges.

Former Transportation Cabinet administrator Dan Druen lost his bid to have the ethics charges against him dismissed in a decision handed down by Sheadel.

We certainly are not members of the Dan Druen Fan Club. We believe him to be a bad apple, a rogue employee whose efforts to curry favor with his superiors led him to make a number of bad decisions; then when confronted with his choices, he chose to blame others, including Gov. Fletcher, for his woes.

But we still have to wonder how ethical it is for a key Ben Chandler supporter to be issuing decisions in cases involving the administration that defeated her preferred candidate and kept him and his entourage from assuming power.

The press and the Democrats have been crying foul over the Ethics Commission's decision not to pursue charges against Fletcher, saying partisan politics are involved. Cannot the same argument be made when a hearing officer who wasted $2,000 on Ben Chandler's candidacy is issuing decisions relating to the administration of the man who vanquished Happy's grandson?

Whomever is responsible for selecting these hearing officers needs to be called into the big office in the rear of the Capitol's first floor and be given a "Come to Jesus" talk. There are thousands of attorneys in Kentucky; surely it's possible to find a dozen or so who weren't big contributors to Ben Chandler to hear these cases.

We believe Sheadel's continued involvement in any cases involving the Fletcher administration to be a conflict of interest and while we would never expect the Fletcher-hating press in this state to look into the matter, we would certainly expect the administration to take steps to take her and others off these cases. We don't think Fletcher supporters should necessarily be hearing these, but neither should supporters of Fletcher's opponents. How about finding some politically disinterested lawyers to issue these rulings?

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