Friday, April 18, 2003

Patton thinks ethics panel should have delayed report

He says his story not accurately told

The Associated Press

FRANKFORT - Gov. Paul Patton says state ethics charges filed against him should have been delayed until after a separate federal investigation of whether he misused his office in the course of an extramarital affair.

The Executive Branch Ethics Commission issued four charges against Patton March 25 over his alleged intervention for Tina Conner. The commission alleges it was a conflict of interest. Patton acknowledged the affair but has denied any wrongdoing or abuse of power.

"The FBI work should take precedence over the civil situations, and I was disappointed that (the commission) didn't make a good faith effort to determine my side of the story before they acted," Patton said in a brief interview Wednesday.

He also said he would testify at a hearing on the ethics charges. "I certainly would expect to have my story told in due time and in the proper sequence," Patton said.

The commission's general counsel, Andy Crocker, declined comment on Patton's statement except to say "we never got a request ... to delay anything."

On Thursday, the commission voted to hire a Lexington attorney, Matthew Mooney, as a hearing officer. The contracted rate would be $75 per hour with a $10,000 maximum.

The Attorney General's Office usually supplies hearing officers for state agencies but declined in the Patton case because of its involvement with federal agents in the criminal investigation, Crocker and Brian Wright, a spokesman for Attorney General Ben Chandler, said.

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