FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Gov. Steve Beshear's administration is
blocking the appointment of his predecessor's top aide to
Kentucky's Mine Safety Review Commission.
Stan Cave, who was former Gov. Ernie Fletcher's chief of staff,
has objected to the claim by Beshear's general counsel that Cave's
appointment wasn't properly confirmed by the General Assembly.
Cave has stepped aside from the commission "under protest"
until the issue is resolved, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported.
The Lexington lawyer said in a statement that he hasn't decided
what action, if any, to take, but said the issue "will ultimately
have to be decided by the Kentucky Supreme Court."
Fletcher, a Republican, appointed Cave to the mine safety
commission in the final hours of his administration on Dec. 10 for
a term on the commission that would expire May 23, 2010. Fletcher
ran for re-election last year but was defeated by Beshear, a
The Republican-led Senate approved Cave's appointment to the
mine safety commission at 12:46 a.m. on April 16, according to the
vote roll call sheet.
But Ellen Hesen, general counsel for Beshear, contends in an
April 18 letter to Cave that the Democratic-controlled House did
not act on the appointment, as required by a state statute.
As a result, his seat on the commission has become vacant, she
Cave did not return phone calls Monday to his Lexington office
and home, the newspaper said.
Beshear's press secretary, Dick Brown, said the governor's
office of general counsel "is confident in its review of the law
and believes it would be illegal to seat Mr. Cave on the board
without approval of both chambers of the General Assembly."
Cave said in a statement to the commission at its meeting last
Friday that his appointment was confirmed by the Senate in
conformity with section 93 of the state Constitution.
It says: "Inferior state officers and members of boards and
commissions, not specifically provided for in this Constitution,
may be appointed or elected, in such manner as may be prescribed by
law, which may include a requirement of consent by the Senate, for
a term not exceeding four years, and until their successors are
appointed or elected and qualified."
Cave said the attempt to remove him violates the state
Constitution and "is contrary to well-known precedent of the
Kentucky Supreme Court."
He said he has given his opinion to Hesen and C. Michael Haines,
an attorney in the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection
Cabinet, which oversees the mine safety panel.
"I have a deep love of the institution of government as well as
a respect for the office of the governor, regardless of party
affiliation," Cave said in his statement. "It is out of that
respect I will step aside from the Mine Safety Review Commission
until this issue is resolved."
The three-member mine safety commission conducts hearings on
willful and repeated violations of Kentucky's mine safety laws.
The job does not have an annual salary, but commission members
are paid about $490 a day for their work.