Most Kentucky Supreme Court justices did not file 2023 financial disclosure reports Skip to content

Most Kentucky Supreme Court justices did not file 2023 financial disclosure reports

A majority of Kentucky justices did not file financial disclosures last year and did not file their reports on time in 2024, adding to existing criticisms that the state’s judicial transparency rules are among the worst in the country.

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Four Kentucky Supreme Court justices failed to file their required financial disclosure reports last year, despite a state law that potentially allows them to be thrown out of office for not doing so.

This year, five of the seven justices failed to file their annual reports by the March 15 legal deadline, only doing so after Kentucky Public Radio began asking for the reports.

State law mandates that all justices, judges and commonwealth’s attorneys, as well as candidates for those offices, file the financial disclosure reports to the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance (KREF). The same law requires the agency to notify officials who are late on their reports and potentially vacate the office if they still fail to file. However, the director of KREF said he did not follow through on either action in 2023.

Asked in April why a majority of the court had failed to file their forms last year, Kentucky Supreme Court Chief Justice Laurance B. VanMeter replied in a statement that members “had come to rely on” a courtesy reminder in February from KREF to file the reports.

With the seventh Supreme Court justice finally submitting their 2024 financial disclosure report May 1, VanMeter wrote that “the failure to file the disclosure was, thus, mere oversight and has been rectified.”

However, even when these financial disclosure reports have been regularly filed by justices in past years, they have been criticized as woefully inadequate, failing to require enough detail to root out any potential conflicts of interest.

Judicial watchdog group Fix the Court released a report in March grading the transparency of Supreme Court justices’ financial disclosures in each state, giving Kentucky an ‘F'. That was the same failing grade given to Kentucky in a similar report by the Center for Public Integrity a decade earlier in 2013.

Both reports ranked Kentucky near the bottom of states for only requiring justices’ to list vague details about their financial investments, as they do not have to reveal the name of companies they own stock in or even provide a range of their value. Additionally, Kentucky remains one of the states where justices’ disclosure forms are not posted online for the public to view.

Read the rest at Louisville Public Media.



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