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Democratic Attorney General Candidates Support Hiring Probe

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Two Democrats running for attorney general said they believe convening a special grand jury two years ago to investigate the hiring practices of Republican Gov. Ernie Fletcher's administration was warranted.
"If I were attorney general, I would have done exactly the same
thing," said Bob Bullock, a former assistant attorney general who
spent more than 30 years in the state agency. "I would not,
however, have chosen to settle the case after the long and arduous
investigation. At that point in time I think it would have been
better to take the case all the way to court."
Bullock's opponent, Jack Conway of Louisville, agreed incumbent
Attorney General Greg Stumbo did the right thing by opening a
criminal investigation after evidence of wrongdoing was presented
to him.
"He had a credible complaint from a whistle-blower," Conway
said. "It's incumbent upon the attorney general to investigate
matters such as this."
Conway, however, declined to say whether he agreed that dropping
the charges against Fletcher was appropriate.
The winner between Bullock and Conway in the May 22 primary
election will face one of four Republicans in the general election;
state Rep. Stan Lee of Lexington, Philip Kimball of Louisville, Jon
Larson of Lexington and Commonwealth's Attorney Tim Coleman of
Morgantown.
Stumbo chose not to seek re-election, opting instead to run for
lieutenant governor on a slate topped by Louisville businessman
Bruce Lunsford.
Stumbo's replacement will take over an office that headed the
Fletcher investigation, which resulted in the governor's indictment
on misdemeanor charges that he illegally rewarded political
supporters with protected state jobs. The indictment was dismissed
in a negotiated settlement with prosecutors from Stumbo's office.
Fletcher has maintained that the investigation was politically
motivated.
Conway, who served as an attorney in former Gov. Paul Patton's
administration and who ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2002,
said if he's elected he wants to focus on Internet crimes, cracking
down on child sexual predators and those involved in financial
fraud. He said he also would combat the state's illegal drug trade.
Bullock, who served under eight attorneys general, said his
experience with the top prosecutor's office makes him the best
candidate. Bullock said one of his priorities would be to set up
advisory councils across the state so that citizens can weigh in on
issues.
Bullock and Conway said they agree with Stumbo's decision to
file a lawsuit against Marathon Petroleum for alleged price gouging
after hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. The lawsuit was filed
Thursday.
Bullock said he would keep the Kentucky Bureau of
Investigations, an investigative arm of the attorney general's
office set up by Stumbo. Conway said he hasn't yet made a decision
about whether he would keep the KBI.
Both candidates agreed that juvenile court records should be
open to the public only when juveniles are accused of violent
crimes.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

AP-NY-05-10-07 2216EDT


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