FRANKFORT, Ky. – Kentucky officials are blocking state employees' Internet access to a political blog that has been critical of Gov. Ernie Fletcher, who was indicted earlier this year in connection with a state hiring scandal.
The blocked Web sites include entertainment and humor sites, online auctions and blogs, but Mark Nickolas, operator of http://www.bluegrassreport.org, said he believes his site was targeted for its political content.
"It's outrageous; it shows that we are in the People's Republic of Kentucky now — that government will block political speech that it does not approve of," Nickolas said.
State Finance Cabinet spokeswoman Jill Midkiff said officials were not targeting particular sites but entire categories to prevent inappropriate employee access.
She said the sites were blocked following a review about two weeks ago of the sites most accessed by state government.
People can appeal the restrictions, which took effect Tuesday, she said.
Fletcher spokeswoman Jodi Whitaker referred questions about the action to Midkiff.
Nickolas' site has been critical of the Republican governor who had been a target in an ongoing attorney general's investigation into allegations that protected state jobs went to the governor's political allies.
Fletcher was indicted on misdemeanor charges of political discrimination, official misconduct and conspiracy and has pleaded not guilty. He issued a sweeping pardon last year to other administration officials who might be caught up in the investigation, but not to himself.
A grand jury has returned 29 indictments in the case, 14 of which remain sealed.