Governor Beshear Signs Order on Executive Branch Ethics
Executive Order Carries Out Campaign Pledge to Bring Integrity to Frankfort
Despite the lack of action by the Kentucky General Assembly on proposed Ethics Reform legislation during the 2008 General Assembly, Gov. Steve Beshear today signed an Executive Order to strengthen the ethics policies governing the executive branch of state government.
"Neither I nor the people of Kentucky can wait another year to change the way state government does business," said Gov. Beshear. "Therefore, I am exercising my power as Governor to strengthen Executive Branch Ethics in state government."
One of the issues Gov. Beshear has already addressed is that of pardons issued by the Governor.
"I have already announced my policy to limit the Governor's power to pardon. Contrary to the last four years, as long as I am Governor, the power to pardon will not be used to cover up illegal activities by anyone," said the Governor.
The Executive Order closes loopholes in current ethics policies, making more consistent the ethical behavior of those under the executive branch.
In early January, Gov. Beshear announced that all major management personnel will be required to undergo mandatory ethics training. So far, more than 60 percent of those employees, including the Governor, have received that training. The Executive Order signed today solidifies that directive and puts forth a voluntary training program for all executive branch lobbyists as well.
The Executive Order also changes the process for appointing members to the Executive Branch Ethics Commission. Currently, the Governor appoints all five members. Under the order signed today, the appointments will occur in the following manner:
* A three-phase rotating schedule to allow input into appointments from other Constitutional office holders with investigative and law enforcement powers;
* The first vacancy is filled by the Governor, the second is filled by the Governor from a list of three nominees submitted by the Attorney General;
* The third vacancy is filled by the Governor from a list of three nominees submitted by the state Auditor of Public Accounts.
Further, once the reorganization of the Finance and Administration Cabinet is completed in the near future, the Executive Branch Ethics Commission will be attached to that Cabinet, rather than the Governor's Office, in order to remove the appearance of undue influence by the Governor.
Other items in the Executive Order include:
* Employees will be forbidden from negotiating for a future job with a person or company with which he or she is directly involved as part of their official duties;
* Legal Defense Funds will have to be registered with the Executive Branch Ethics Commission; donations from those who do business with the state will not be allowed and quarterly reports will be filed with the Commission.
* Members of about 74 policy-making and regulatory boards will be subject to ethical guidelines governing gifts and conflicts of interest.
"These changes will strengthen the integrity of state government," said Gov. Beshear. "Kentucky cannot and will not move forward in a significant way until we change how state government does business. The people are demanding and deserve ethical and moral leadership. And I am determined to give it to them."