Kentucky Personnel Board opens investigation of Alison Lundergan Grimes

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From left, then-Assistant to the Director Matthew Selph, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, and then-Executive Director Maryellen Allen at a meeting of the Kentucky State Board of Elections in Frankfort. (Photo by Daniel Desrochers, ddesrochers@herald-leader.com)
From left, then-Assistant to the Director Matthew Selph, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, and then-Executive Director Maryellen Allen at a meeting of the Kentucky State Board of Elections in Frankfort. (Photo by Daniel Desrochers, ddesrochers@herald-leader.com)

The Kentucky Personnel Board voted Friday to launch an investigation into allegations that Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes’ office violated state personnel law by using the state’s voter registration database to look up the party affiliation of employees and prospective hires.

Jared Dearing, the executive director of the State Board of Elections, filed a complaint with the personnel board claiming that Grimes’ office looked up the party affiliation of staffers and job applicants at the state board of elections and that she created a hostile work environment for himself and other employees.

“This is not about party politics, this is about the welfare of our system,” Dearing said. “If it does not work for Republicans now, it will not work for Democrats in the future.”

Dearing had previously filed a larger complaint with the Executive Branch Ethics Commission and the State Board of Elections, claiming that Grimes had overstepped her authority as the chief elections officer in the state. The State Board of Elections responded by passing a resolution affirming Grimes’ authority.

The Secretary of State’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but Grimes previously called the allegations political.

“We’re not going to participate in the partisan politics, nor do we look at the role of chief elections official and chair of this board as one that we’re going to allow others to be able to make unfounded allegations about partisan politics towards,” Grimes said at the time.

Brian Crall, chairman of the Kentucky Personnel Board, would not say when he thought the investigation would be concluded. He said he wanted to avoid the appearance of partisan politics.

“These kinds of things must not become political,” Crall said. “I have seen that in the past.”

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Written by Daniel Desrochers. Cross-posted with permission
from the Herald-Leader via the Kentucky Press News Service.

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