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House unravels committee investigating Hoover

House Minority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins, D-Sandy Hook, addressing the House.

Photo courtesy of LRC Public Information.

Ninety House members voted unanimously Wednesday to end the rule creating the contentious committee investigating former Speaker Jeff Hoover.

Since the beginning of the session, House Democrats have railed against rule 23 (a) which created a process and bipartisan committee for investigating any complaints and charges filed against a member of Kentucky’s Statehouse.

Speaker Pro Tee David Osborne, R-Prospect, addressed the body after a one-hour recess on the seventh day of the session saying he had worked on several proposed amendments with Democrat House Floor Leader Rocky Adkins and members of his office. Those amendments were for the procedural rules voted in by the Republican House majority during the first day of the 2018 legislative session.

After also meeting with Republican Majority Floor Leader Jonathan Shell, Osborne said they had decided the best way forward was to repeal the rule.

“I think it’s important to explain how we got to this point,” Osborne said. “Many know on Nov. 5,...things took a dramatic detour. I would challenge us in this body to move forward and to restore some decorum...to act like gentlemen and ladies and to do the business of this commonwealth. Let’s get to work.”

And unlike every day of the session so far, the amendment passed without any debate or opposition.

Adkins opposed the House GOP hiring a private law firm to investigate Hoover and the three other Republican House members who secretly settled a sexual harassment settlement with a female staffer. Wednesday, he reiterated that the House could not and should not investigate itself.

“I’ve been very consistent in my time here in the body,” Adkins said. “When we have allegations made against a member of misconduct of any kind. I’ve been very strong (on) that we should not investigate ourselves. We have set up a proper way to investigation any allegations done by an independent body that will be objective to basically get to the truth of any allegations that have been made. We’ve done that statutorily with the Legislative Ethics Commission which is currently investigating this case as they have other cases.”

An independent body like the LEC is where allegations ought to be investigated, Adkins said, and where any recommendations should come from.

“We don’t need to investigate ourselves,” Adkins said. “It needs to be done by the Legislative Ethics Commission.”

Hoover attempted unsuccessfully yesterday to add an amendment to the rule requiring a “losers pay” rule for legal expenses incurred by a charged member if the investigation proved unsuccessful in expelling a House member. Hoover specifically addressed the eight members who filed the charges against him.

Whether the factions within the House GOP can reconcile their differences for the difficult session overshadowed by a whistleblower lawsuit, an ethics investigation, the pension problem and drafting a state budget remains to be seen.