Monday, December 17, 2007

An eyebrow-raising appointment in Beshear's new administration

If it hasn't been announced by the time this hits cyberspace, it should be announced before too long that Charles Wolfe has been named communications director for the Transportation Cabinet.

Wolfe is eminently qualified. After all, he's a veteran Associated Press reporter in Kentucky and has worked in state government communications for the past little while. His appointment is unusual in that most agency spokespeople are former television personalities rather than print journalists, but that's not the main reason our eyebrows went up in Spock-like fashion when we heard the news of Wolfe's imminent appointment.

You see, for the last several months, Wolfe worked in the communications office of Gov. Fletcher. One of his major duties was to write speeches and help coordinate official events, that served as de facto campaign stops, as September and October crept toward November.

His eminent qualifications aside, we don't know why Gov. Beshear and new Transportation Secretary Joe Prather would want someone fresh out of their vanquished opponent's office, who was helping with the campaign against their side, to come to work for them, especially in the agency that was the flashpoint for the problems that cost Fletcher his re-election bid.

Two things jump out at us, and both are quite disturbing given the high value we here at K-Pac put on loyalty.

The first is that Wolfe's loyalty is for sale. He was willing to work for Fletcher, now he's willing to work for the man who beat his former boss. High-level political appointments are different than your average non-merit job. Total dedication to the governor and his policies is essential. And if you are helping craft the governor's message, it's even more critical. It's disturbing to think that someone who was so highly placed in Fletcher's administration could so easily shift gears to the man who beat him.

The second, and more troubling thought, is that while he worked for Fletcher, Wolfe wasn't fully on board. We'd hate to think that someone who was writing his speeches and planning his appearances had secretly cast his lot with the opposition. Fletcher deserved the best possible effort from everyone on his team and we don't want to think he had someone so close to him not giving 100 percent and more.

Honestly, we don't know why Beshear and Prather would want anyone even remotely connected with Fletcher in their government, especially those who were still around during the campaign. It didn't take long for Beshear to take a big broom to Transportation. We don't know specifically who all stayed and who all was booted out, but we do know that Tim Hazlette (the highway safety commissioner who was personnel director during much of the time covered by the Stumbo witch hunt investigation) and Doug Hogan (the man whom Wolfe is replacing as Transportation's spokesman and who also served as Fletcher's spokesman for awhile) were shown the door.

We're already upset with Mitch McConnell, Anne Northup, many other prominent Republicans and about half the GOP electorate for not showing loyalty to the embattled governor. One of the reasons we admire Brett Hall is because he remained loyal to Fletcher even after being fired for using profanity with reporters and daring to speak the truth about the party's efforts to abandon their first governor in three decades.

None of us know Wolfe, none of us have ever met him nor had any dealings with him, we just know of him through professional reputation. So we can't say with certainty what his motives are or what Beshear and Prather are trying to prove by keeping him on in a highly visible position. But given the fact that if we'd just ousted an incumbent governor we wouldn't want any of his key staffers anywhere near our administration unless they'd pledged their support for us early on, we certainly view this appointment with wonderment and suspicion.

Ernie Fletcher lost his re-election bid in large part because his fellow Republicans, those who should have supported him against all enemies, stabbed him in the back. We don't have words to express the disgust we'd feel if we found out that one of his communications office staffers had helped wield a knife.


At 10:20 AM, December 18, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ernie lost because people stabbed him in the back? In what world are you living in?

He lost because of the hiring scandal and all the pardons.

At 12:29 PM, December 18, 2007, Anonymous KPac 2 said...

From the original post to which you responded:

... especially in the agency that was the flashpoint for the problems that cost Fletcher his re-election bid.

Do you lack reading comprehension?

We haven't seen the breakdowns for voter turnout by party, but the election results mirror this state's party registration numbers. If there was a heavier than usual Republican turnout but a lighter than usual Democrat turnout, then yes, Fletcher being stabbed in the back by Republicans who failed to defend and support him against Stumbo's attacks contributed to his defeat.

We're fortunate to know the truth about the hiring scandal. We don't know what Steve Pence and Erwin Roberts were thinking, but any rank-and-file Republicans who took everything Stumbo said and everything printed in the state's big newspapers were most certainly misread.

At 3:26 PM, December 18, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Folks who really know Frankfort know that Chuck Wolfe's reputation for truth and integrity, during his years with The Associated Press and the Cabinet for Environmental and Public Protection, transcends that of any politician. My understanding of his work for Fletcher is that he did NON-campaign duties. Sure, when any official is running for re-election, any appearance is political, but I'll bet a reading of the speeches he wrote for Fletcher will show that they were about programs and policy, not politics. Ain't no 'taters where you're diggin'.

At 3:30 PM, December 18, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think he was still on the payroll of the cabinet, as a Merit System employee, on temporary assignment to the governor's office.

At 10:49 AM, December 19, 2007, Anonymous Weatherman said...

Get over it guys, Ernie lost because of Ernie and no one else....he said so himself.

At 4:15 PM, December 19, 2007, Anonymous Independent Thinker said...

Since you admit you don't know Chuck Wolfe, allow me to set your readers interests to rest. I've known Chuck on a personal basis and have worked with him on a professional basis for more than 20 years.

The suggestions you have made about his integrity, his dedication to doing a quality job for ex-Gov. Fletcher are a clear demonstration of what a total buffoon you are.

Chuck Wolfe is a consumate professional who was in a non-merit job in another agency where he wrote speeches and was transfered into the governor's office to do the same. He was given the job because he's an excellent writer who gets it right the first time.

I can only assume that with his more than two decades of quality writing and, again, unquestioned integrity in Frankfort, the new administration was only too eager to get a pro like Chuck to work for them.

Your posting suggests not only a total lack of knowledged and desire only to smear, but should call into question your credibility for sharing information.

At 10:29 PM, December 19, 2007, Anonymous Kpac2 said...

Independent thinker at 4:15, thanks for your comments. We know only of Wolfe's abilities, which we join you in praise of. He was always a very good writer when he worked for AP.

We just find it funny that someone in a non-merit position, whose job it is to write speeches to make the incumbent governor look good, suddenly gets moved into a key communications post in the new administration. None of us could so quickly change loyalties, especially from Ernie Fletcher, whom we respect and admire, to Steve Beshear, for whom we have no respect.

If Mr. Wolfe can make that transition and do an equally good job, good for him. We couldn't do that, especially if the new governor had just defeated our old boss. It appears that he was working for Fletcher more for a paycheck than out of loyalty, which is not a trait we find becoming in a high-level position in the Governor's Office. That's not something any of us could have done.

And it's "we," plural. You are incorrect when you say "you are a buffoon." You should say "you are buffoons." This blog is a collaboration of Kentucky conservatives with varied backgrounds, originally united in our support for and loyalty to Gov. Fletcher but now trying to keep the new administration honest and calling out those who hung Fletcher out to dry when he most needed their support.

At 10:29 PM, December 29, 2007, Anonymous Frankfort Insider said...

Actually the post is partly right but not about Chuck Wolfe. There were non-merits who threw themselves at the Fletcher crowd and the inexperienced Fletcher cabinet folks fell for it. Take Mark York at the Natural Resources cabinet. He worked for Jones in the governor's office and as deputy secretary under Patton. Then he throws himself at Wilcher and Hill and they buy it hook line and sinker. Hill takes him along with her to fundraisers for Fletcher but tells him he doesn't have to contribute so that it won't be on his record. He does dirty work for them and brags about them and how great they are but really to their face. Travels with Hill everywhere she goes. Went from about 75K a year salary to 110K under Fletcher.
Behind closed doors he's rumored to feed info to other folks connected to the cabinet and to the Beshear campaign. Lo and behold the campaign is over and he ends up being told within first 24 hours that he's being kept and then he is given what's called appointing authority which he uses to begin firing all the fletcher folks. of course, hiring scandal played majority role in Fletcher's loss but just behind it is the crowd of 61% that Fletcher kept who should have been fired. They thought they were actually winning those holdovers over and in truth they were slow bleeding them over four year period until their Dem friends could come back in. One thing is for sure, one of several lessons Republicans should have learned is that the Yorks and others like him should be fired the first day of the next Republican administration. Given that folks like this are filling the Beshear administration that might just be four years away. That would suit me just fine!


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