For several months before the Nov. 5 gubernatorial election in Kentucky, we heard a lot about the ongoing feud between Gov. Matt Bevin and Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton of Bowling Green.
Hampton, who was dropped as Bevin’s running mate early this year, made it clear in recent months that she is not a Bevin fan and that she was unhappy that Bevin’s office fired her chief of staff and deputy chief of staff over her objections.
The outgoing lieutenant governor was so upset about the firings that she took the case to Franklin Circuit Court seeking the reinstatement of the two fired employees.
Recently, Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd ruled the governor has “superseding authority” to hire and fire the lieutenant governor’s staff and the lieutenant governor has none, unless the governor grants the authority.
In his ruling, Shepherd said there’s “nothing in the record to support the proposition that the ‘department’ assigned to the Office of Lieutenant Governor consists of any personnel other than the Lieutenant Governor herself.” Shepherd also cited budgetary considerations in concluding that the lieutenant governor is “subordinate” to the governor and part of the governor’s office.
The current executive branch budget bill contains “no separate budget unit” for the lieutenant governor’s office, he said. Instead, all budgetary allocations for the lieutenant governor are included in allocations for the governor’s office, Shepherd said.
We believe Shepherd ruled correctly in this case and followed the law to the letter. The way we read the law, as Shepherd stated, the governor does indeed have the “superseding authority” to hire and fire who he wants to.
One would think Hampton would accept this ruling, especially since she will no longer be lieutenant governor after Dec. 10, and move on with her life.
But that doesn’t appear to be the case, as she is appealing Shepherd’s ruling to the Kentucky Court of Appeals.
While it is certainly within her rights to appeal Shepherd’s ruling, we quite frankly see this as a moot point, considering she’s about to be out of office. We don’t know how the court of appeals will rule, but we do believe it is time for Hampton to realize that – with days counting down to the loss of her title – this appears very petty. We believe Hampton would be wise to hold her head up high, drop this petty appeal and move on with her life, whether in the public or private sector.
It’s the right thing to do.