- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 7, 2014

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Former Democratic state Rep. John Arnold was fined $3,000 Wednesday for violating state ethics laws in a sexual harassment case in which three women state employees accused him of touching them inappropriately over a period of four years.

Wednesday was the second time the Legislative Ethics Commission found that Arnold violated state ethics laws. However, last month’s 4-1 vote failed. State law requires the nine-member commission to have at least five affirmative votes to take action.

That decision led to much public criticism and prompted leaders from both parties to call on the commission to re-hear the case. It even spilled over into Kentucky’s contentious U.S. Senate race, with Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell criticizing Democratic candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes for not returning a campaign donation from Arnold. Grimes kept the donation after two of the women who filed the complaint against Arnold told her to keep it.

The commission agreed Wednesday to hold a second public hearing.

They later voted 5-1 that Arnold used his position as a public official to violate the public interest. Commissioner Elmer George, an appointee of Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo, was the lone no vote, he said because he does not believe the commission has the authority to punish former members of the legislature.

“We wanted the state to acknowledge that John Arnold assaulted us and has hurt us,” said Yolanda Costner, one of the three women who filed the complaint against Arnold and an adviser to House Majority Whip Tommy Thompson. “It has damaged our careers. It has damaged our relationship with our bosses. It’s something that has been going on for years.”

Steve Downey, Arnold’s attorney, vowed to appeal the decision to the Franklin circuit court.

“This matter was finally tried to a conclusion on April 8 and the commission acted legally at that time with a quorum and they failed to get enough votes to pass their motions to find Mr. Arnold guilty,” Downey told reporters after the hearing. “The decision to re-try is basically a nullity because this matter was already tried on April 8.”


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