- Associated Press - Thursday, September 24, 2015
Hampton, Overly clash on sexual harassment lawsuit in debate

MIDWAY, Ky. (AP) - Kentucky’s major party nominees for lieutenant governor - both women for the first time in state history - clashed over a sexual harassment scandal during their first televised debate at Kentucky’s only women’s college Wednesday.

Lawmakers recently settled a $400,000 sexual harassment lawsuit brought by two state employees who say they were touched inappropriately by former Democratic state Rep. John Arnold. State Rep. Sannie Overly, the running mate for Democratic nominee Jack Conway, was the House Majority Caucus chairwoman when the lawsuit was filed. Republican nominee for governor Matt Bevin last week criticized Overly for “turning her back” on the women and for attempting to have her deposition in the case hidden from the public.

During Wednesday night’s debate at Midway University, Overly denounced Bevin’s comments as “reprehensible” and called it a “false attack.”

“That is why even some Kentucky Republicans call Matt Bevin a pathological liar,” Overly said, referencing comments made by U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell’s campaign about Bevin during the 2014 Senate primary.

Overly is the first woman to be elected to the state House majority leadership. In her first year as majority caucus chairwoman, two women who worked for the House leadership team sued Arnold for sexual harassment. Arnold denied the allegations and resigned. But the lawsuit would drag on for two years. Overly has refused to answer questions about the case and tried to have her under-oath deposition sealed for fear it would be used against her politically.

Overly never testified in the case because the state settled the lawsuit this summer. But Arnold did give a deposition, and Wednesday the Lexington Herald-Leader quoted him as saying he “spanked the knee” of Overly, adding that she said “she’d knock me out” if he did it again.


Kim Davis loses another bid to stall gay-marriage case

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis has lost her latest effort to stall issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, one of a fast-growing collection of rejected appeals.

Davis, fresh out of jail for defying a federal judge, again asked the judge to postpone his mandate that she license all couples.

Davis, elected as a Democrat in rural Rowan County, sparked a fiery debate about religious freedom and the rule of law when she refused to issue any licenses after a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in June effectively legalized gay marriage nationwide.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a suit against Davis on behalf of four couples, two straight and two gay. U.S. District Court Judge David Bunning ordered her to issue the licenses, not only to those four couples but also to any other qualified to be married.

Davis ignored him, lost a string of appeals then spent five days in jail. Her deputies began issuing altered documents while she was behind bars, including to both gay couples who sued her.

Her attorneys with the Liberty Counsel, a Florida-based firm that opposes gay rights, asked the appeals court to toss Bunning’s order that expanded the licensing mandate to all couples, arguing that because the couples who sued her received a license, she should not have to issue any more while the case is pending.


Arnold says in deposition he ‘spanked’ Overly’s knee

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - A former lawmaker who was sued for sexual harassment said in a deposition that he “spanked the knee” of a female lawmaker now running for lieutenant governor and that she told him if he did it again, “she’d knock me out.”

The Lexington Herald-Leader (https://bit.ly/1OSZgH7https://bit.ly/1OSZgH7 ) reports that Louisville attorney Thomas Clay, who represented two female legislative staffers who sued former Democratic state Rep. John Arnold, released Arnold’s deposition Wednesday.

Rep. Sannie Overly, the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor, and former Legislative Research Commission director Robert Sherman had asked that their video depositions not be released. Franklin County Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate denied the motions and noted that Overly was never deposed.

Arnold said in the deposition he couldn’t recall ever sexually harassing the two legislative staffers.

The complaint was settled this summer for $400,000 from the Kentucky legislature.



New Kentucky education commissioner chosen

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - The Kentucky Board of Education has voted to hire Stephen L. Pruitt as the state’s next education commissioner.

All but one board member was present Wednesday and voted unanimously to offer the position to Pruitt, a Georgia education and currently senior vice president of an independent education reform organization. Board member Samuel Hinkle did not attend the special meeting.

Pruitt was the only remaining candidate for the job after another finalist withdrew this month.

The Education Department said this week the board plans to ratify a contract for the new commissioner at its Oct. 6 meeting. Pruitt is expected to start in the position later in the month.

Pruitt has served at Achieve Inc. since 2010.

Former Commissioner Terry Holliday retired last month. Associate Commissioner Kevin Brown is serving as commissioner in the interim.

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