Ethics Commission Punts on Lobbyist Issue

The question of whether or not a registered lobbyist should serve on Kentucky’s State Board of Elections remains unresolved.  Kentucky Public Radio’s Tony McVeigh says the ethics board that considered the question deferred action.

Stephen Huffman is a registered lobbyist for HCM Governmental Relations in Lexington.  Last year, he was appointed by  Gov. Steve Beshear to the State Board of Elections.  Executive Branch Ethics Commission Director John Steffen says the appointment creates a conflict of interest, because Huffman works for an entity that lobbies the executive branch, including the governor  

“We have addressed those type of conflicts by basically saying we can’t tell you what to do in your private capacity, but we can say you’re going to have to recuse so much in your official capacity, that your service is basically rendered meaningless on the board," said Steffen.

But the ethics commission voted to defer any action on the matter, because no one has publicly complained about Huffman’s service on the Board of Elections.

After the vote, member David Denton admitted the ethics commission basically punted. 

“I think we have just kicked the can down the road, but nonetheless, at least we can be addressing a concern that comes from someone that we’re looking over, as opposed to just putting it out ourselves,"  said Denton.

The motion to defer was made by commission member William Knopf, a retired appellate judge from Louisville.