FRANKFORT, Ky. – Attorneys for Republican Gov. Ernie Fletcher say he shouldn't face trial for allegedly basing personnel decisions on political considerations because Democrats did similar things for decades without punishment.
Fletcher's attorneys claim the case against him is the first of its kind to be prosecuted by the state attorney general's office.
In a motion to dismiss the charges, Fletcher's lawyers say the state Personnel Board found 65 instances of political discrimination against workers since 1972, none of which were prosecuted by the attorney general's office. Democrats had held the governor's office for three decades before Fletcher took office in 2003.
The board found there was a "mass removal" of Republicans in 1972 when Democrat Wendell Ford succeeded Republican Louie B. Nunn as governor, but the attorney general did nothing, the motion states.
"One of the most honored and respected precepts in American jurisprudence is that a person cannot be singled out for prosecution under a law that, over many years, has not been enforced against anybody else," says the motion, filed last week.
Fletcher has pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy, official misconduct and political discrimination stemming from allegations that he gave protected state jobs to political allies.
His lawyers also contend that the statue of limitations for prosecuting the misdemeanors has expired.
According to the motion, only the firing of Transportation Cabinet Deputy Inspector General Mike Duncan on May 13, 2005, came within a year of the indictment, which was issued May 11, 2006. And because Duncan was still a probationary hire at the time, his firing was not illegal, it says.
An Aug. 11 hearing is set on the motion.
The special grand jury overseeing the investigation has issued 29 indictments, 14 of which remain sealed. Last August, Fletcher pardoned his entire administration -- other than himself -- for any charges that could result from the investigation.