Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Sex/Money/Ethics Scandal Dooms One-Week-Old Beshear Administration

New Democratic Governor of Kentucky Steve Beshear is about to break criminal former governor Ernie Fletcher's record for Shortest Time Between Inauguration and Stupid Scandal That Dooms Administration.

Took Ernie 17 months to start the lying and stonewalling about illegal behavior by underlings; Steve Beshear took the first step down that road today - Day 7 of his administration.

Gov. Steve Beshear will let the state Personnel Board handle questions surrounding two hiring-related moves of former State Treasurer Jonathan Miller, Beshear's spokeswoman said today.

"There is no action necessary on behalf of the Governor,” spokeswoman Vicki Glass said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Beshear has appointed one of the employees involved in the potential inquiry to a position in the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet.

Rebecca Brooke Parker, who most recently served as Miller's deputy treasurer, is being appointed executive director of inter-governmental affairs at the request of Justice Secretary J. Michael Brown, Glass said.

On Saturday, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported that Miller -- Beshear's recently named Finance and Administration Cabinet secretary -- must clean up several mistakes his treasury office made in the hiring of a state merit worker and the awarding of raises to at least one of his aides.

Beshear, who campaigned on a platform of ethics reform, pledged in his inaugural address last week that all of his top appointees would receive training in state hiring laws and ethics laws.

"We need to get our own house in order before we can be trusted to do the people's business," Beshear said in his speech.

At issue with Miller are the October 2006 hiring of merit employee Michael Bates, who works in the treasury's printing department, and two salary increases in 2004 to Parker.

In Parker's case, (outgoing Personnel Cabinet Secretary Brian Crall) questioned two salary increases, amounting to a total of $566.92 a month, awarded in June 2004.

Overall, Parker saw her salary rise from $21,000 a year when Miller hired her out of college as a secretary in 2000 to $78,981 a year this year as deputy state treasurer.

(More, including a trip to Vegas, after the jump.)

Miller denied any suggestion that he gave Parker undue favorable treatment but said he has relied on her input regarding "personal business" matters such as future job opportunities.

For instance, Parker accompanied Miller on a trip to Las Vegas between May 14 and 17, just after Miller dropped out of the Democratic primary for governor.
"We had business meetings," he said. "On trips where I'm trying to look to my future and to develop my future business contacts, yeah, she would have been involved in that kind of activity."

Page One was the first to note that the HL's initial piece on this Saturday stopped just short of saying outright that Parker and Miller were having an affair.

The rumor of Jonathan Miller’s alleged affair has been swirling around Kentucky for months. It’s been such common knowledge that it’s no longer exciting gossip in political circles. So why are we beating around the bush by merely discussing his strange-as-hell trip to Las Vegas with Brooke Parker? Someone should just ask the questions.

Has Jonathan– Mr. Ten Commandments– been cheating on his wife (with whom he has two young children) with his Deputy? Did he abuse his power when providing a 380% raise for his alleged mistress? Did he do all of this while parading around as a man of such high morality that he could publish a book about it?

We don’t personally care if he’s a cheat. It’s up to him if he wants to do something disgusting and morally bankrupt. But Miller needs to come clean with the public if he expects to ever be taken seriously. Especially if he misused his office or position while galavanting around the country.

If he did abuse his power, should he be serving as a cabinet secretary? Of course not. So if he’s done something wrong it’s time to tell the Commonwealth. Because it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to determine that the Herald-Leader is moments away from tightening its vice grip. Moments away from embarrassing our new administration.

Miller needs to understand that no one cares if he’s having an affair. We only care if he’s abused his office to benefit his alleged mistress. It’s nothing personal.

Amen. But this isn't about Miller's utter lack of personal, professional, political and governomental ethics.

This is about Governor Steve Beshear's inability to deal swiftly and decisively with a subordinate who has probably broken the law.

Particularly six weeks after Beshear upset an incumbent repug who specialized in thumbing his nose at state hiring laws, this is beyond disappointing.

Fire Miller, Governor. Fire Parker. Do it now.

Cross-posted at Blue in the Bluegrass.