Attorney General Objects To Request For Grand Jury Evidence

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - The attorney general's office is objecting to a request by the Kentucky Personnel Board for documents gathered by a special grand jury that investigated alleged hiring improprieties by Gov. Ernie Fletcher's administration.

The Personnel Board is doing its own investigation, and wants access to all the documents.

In a motion filed Thursday, the attorney general's office argued that it may need the information for a follow-up investigation. Former Fletcher political appointee Sam Beverage, who pleaded guilty to misconduct earlier this week, alleged that the administration steered state contracts to political supporters. The prosecutor on the Beverage case asked the attorney general's office to investigate his allegations.

Judge Reed Rhorer has scheduled a hearing for 2:30 EDT on Friday to hear oral arguments for and against releasing the documents to the Personnel Board.

The dispute is the latest development in a political scandal that has dogged the Fletcher administration for more than two years. The special grand jury investigated complaints that Fletcher and his aides improperly rewarded political supporters with protected state jobs after he took office in 2003.

The grand jury returned 29 indictments, one of which charged Fletcher with criminal conspiracy, official misconduct and political discrimination. The charges against Fletcher were dropped in an agreement with prosecutors, even though the grand jury concluded that he had approved a "widespread and coordinated plan" to skirt state hiring laws.

Fletcher issued pardons in 2005 for everyone else charged in the probe.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved

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