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Attorney General Finds No Wrongdoing by Covington City Manager

The Office of Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear said that Covington City Manager Larry Klein did not violate state law when he directed City Hall staff to gather information for incumbent candidates in last November's election.\

A complaint from Covington Professional Firefighters Union Local 38 made to Kenton County Commonwealth's Attorney Rob Sanders, who turned the issue over to Beshear's office, was the source of the decision. 

In a December 29 letter to Sanders, Assistant Deputy Attorney General Michael Wright said that the office would not pursue any action regarding the complaint. The Kentucky Registry of Election Finance (KREF) also determined that nothing untoward took place. 

Local 38 accused Klein of violating state law by using his city position to assist certain candidates for office, but Klein maintained that the information he asked staff to gather ahead of a candidates forum last fall was to be made available to all candidates running for Covington mayor and city commission.

“I am very pleased but not at all surprised that two separate state agencies, the Election Finance Registry, and the Attorney General’s office, found nothing worth further investigation in the original claim made by Local 38. I believe this was a baseless claim from the start," Klein said in a statement to The River City News.

Local 38 expressed its disappointment in a statement to RCN.

"The Covington Professional Firefighters Local 38 are disappointed in the Attorney General's letter regarding city resources being used for the benefit of private individuals in the 2016 campaign for Covington's elected offices," the statement said. "Essentially, the Attorney General's office did no investigation we are aware of. The union will issue a more detailed response at a later date."

Sanders said that there may be more to come, though. 

"I am aware of the letter from the (attorney general), however, subsequent to that letter, more emails from the City of Covington's server have been produced to the Commonwealth's Attorney Office which raise additional questions about city employees campaigning on city time," Sanders said in a statement. "This investigation is on-going. Thus, I have no further comment."

Klein maintains that he did nothing wrong.

"Throughout the 2016 city commission election campaign, the city Manager’s office and other city staff routinely responded to requests for information from political candidates, providing thousands of pages of data, reports, and other information to all candidates including incumbents and challengers, and to the general public, the media, and even to Local 38, and the specific request that Local 38 took exception to,  was no different than those other examples, Klein said.”

In another case, the Attorney General's Office previously supported the City of Covington's claim that it provided Local 38 with the records the union requested in a timely manner, something Local 38 denied.

In the most recent letter, the Attorney General's Office said that while no state law was violated it could not determine if the city's ethics code was. Wright wrote that the AG's office made no finding or judgment on that matter and that, if desired by Sanders, it should be taken up with the Kenton County Attorney's Office.

-Michael Monks, editor & publisher