Attorney General, Firefighters' Union Respond to Covington Investigation
The Kentucky Attorney General's Office and the International Association of Firefighters Local 38 both responded Wednesday to the report issued by Lexington attorney Scott White that alleged criminal wrongdoing by former Covington city manager Larry Klein and mayor Sherry Carran.
White, a former deputy attorney general under Ben Chandler, was highly critical of the attorney general's office for not pursuing the complaints filed by the firefighters' union ahead of last year's mayoral election in the city.
According to White, Klein improperly and illegally injected himself into the election by offering assistance to Carran in her reelection bid through the use of city employees and equipment to gather data ahead of campaign events. Carran, White alleged, did not report what he classified as an in-kind contribution from Klein to her campaign.
Both Klein and Carran destroyed emails, White said, that were in accessible to him during his nearly six-month investigation, which also included a thorough review of code enforcement operations that ultimately led to the resignation of longtime city engineer Mike Yeager.
In the report presented Tuesday night at Covington City Hall, White concluded that the state attorney general's office conducted "no investigation at all", and through its inaction, suggested that criminal behavior "will be tolerated". He said the attorney general's decision to clear Klein of any wrongdoing "borders on irresponsibility and dereliction."
Attorney General Andy Beshear's office was asked to review whether Klein had violated election laws by offering information to some candidates but not others, as alleged by the firefighters union. Both the AG office and the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance concluded that Klein had not done anything wrong, though they did not conclude whether local ethics rules had been violated.
White was granted access to Klein's and Carran's city email accounts, as well as the accounts of others within City Hall and presented other emails that were not previously reviewed by either state agency. Carran was ultimately defeated by Joe Meyer, who, along with the rest of the city commission, approved contracting with White to evaluate the issue.
The report was welcomed by Local 38.
“As disappointed as we were with the offices of the Attorney General and the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance, we are just as pleased that the city conducted, and received, a detailed and thorough investigation from an independent investigator,” said Local 38 President Mike Lee, in a statement.