Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Kentucky Democrats take patronage to a whole new level

As was well-documented here at the time, one of the unspoken goals of Ernie Fletcher's administration was to put an end to the political patronage that had plagued the hiring of state employees during previous Democrat governors.

A study commissioned by Fletcher's Department of Personnel (demoted from a Cabinet during his term but promoted back to Cabinet status under the current administration) showed that, in many cases, the political affiliation of state employees was inversely proportional to the party registration of the general public. In some counties where Republicans enjoyed a 3-1 advantage in voter registration, the state workforce was 3-1 Democrat.

It was this kind of blatant political patronage that the Fletcher administration tried to end, but we all know how that ended up. Democrats didn't like the fact that they could no longer hand out state jobs as rewards for party loyalty, so they trumped up an investigation and the result was Fletcher's loss to Gov. Steve Beshear in 2007.

Beshear campaigned on the premise of cleaning up state government, but we all know that Democrats have no intention of doing things properly. His administration has put some window dressing on the hiring process for merit system state employees, but the truth is that it's as if Fletcher's term never existed. The state is back to its old longstanding tricks of hiring loyal Democrats for jobs that are supposed to be filled on merit and independent of politics. Input from party officials and Democratic local elected officials and legislators is still a primary consideration when a vacancy is filed or an employee is promoted.

Even though political patronage is a way of life for state government when the Democrats run it, we've heard of an especially egregious example that puts the past abuses to shame and reaches a whole new level of improper.

We know of one elected official who also serves as one of Beshear's contact people. This official was Beshear's campaign chair in their home county. This official's spouse was given a job and is in charge of personnel decisions for a state office.

The aforementioned elected official has their sights set on higher office; one that would cover multiple counties instead of just one locality. The spouse is using their state position to help. It's been said that the personnel administrator is making decisions on who gets hired by extracting promises from applicants that they and their families will support the spouse's bid for higher office.

This certainly would be a hard allegation to prove, as denials would fly faster than snowflakes in the winter wind if the perpetrators were publicly confronted. Still, this has been reported by multiple sources so there must be something to it.

We've known about this for awhile but weren't motivated to come out of our recent hibernation to post it. With the filing deadline for elected offices approaching by the end of this month, we felt it necessary to bring this to the public's attention. It should be noted at this time that the candidate in question has not yet filed for the higher office.

Still, this is representative of Kentucky Democrats' attitudes about political patronage in state merit system hiring. To them, black is white and up is down. In DemoWorld, an attempt to restore fairness in personnel decisions is itself political patronage. Their solution to end patronage is to actually reinstitute patronage.

It just goes to prove that some things never change.

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