Saturday, March 29, 2003

Ky. Gov. Patton: Ethics charges


The Kentucky ethics commission Tuesday added another round of charges against Gov. Paul E. Patton for abusing his office to benefit his lover. Patton, 65, admitted his two-year affair with Tina Boyd Conner, 40, but denies misusing his office. Although he abandoned a planned run for the U.S. Senate and he's term-limited from running again for governor, he still refuses to resign. His term is up this year. It can't end soon enough.

The ethics panel found "probable cause" that Patton intervened at least four times on behalf of Conner. Patton's case now goes to a hearing officer. The commission has only civil jurisdiction. It functions as a civil equivalent of a grand jury and judge. If the charges are upheld, the maximum penalty the panel can impose is a $5,000 fine and public reprimands.

Count 1: In 1999, at Tina Conner's request, Patton used his influence as governor to create a new sergeant's slot in the state vehicle enforcement division and promote a friend of hers, Monty Clark, to that position.

Count 2: In 2000, Patton used or attempted to use his influence to ensure that Conner's new construction company would be certified as a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise and be given preferential treatment for state highway contracts.

Count 3: In 2000, Patton used or attempted to use his official position to appoint Conner as a board member of the Kentucky Lottery Corp.

Count 4: In 2000, Patton used or attempted to use his official position to appoint Seth Conner to the Agricultural Development Board, when the governor had a sexual relationship with Seth's wife.

The Transportation Cabinet's inspector general issued a March 5 report confirming Patton's intervention in the Monty Clark case. Kentucky Attorney General Ben Chandler has been investigating Patton for years for alleged election improprieties and most recently his relationship with Tina Conner. After their relationship ended, she sued Patton for sexual harassment, which was dismissed by the judge, but her other complaints are still pending.

Patton brought economic development and higher education advances to the Commonwealth, but the people of Kentucky deserve to be delivered from his disgraceful soap opera.

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