Former State Rep. John Arnold has filed an appeal in an ethics case that declared him guilty of abusing his office to sexually harass three female state House employees.
In a filing entered Monday into Franklin Circuit Court, Arnold’s attorney argued that the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission’s ruling against him was made in error. Arnold’s attorney alleged that the commission did not have jurisdiction over Arnold because Arnold had resigned in September 2013 and was no longer a member of the legislature.
The ethics panel ordered Arnold last month to issue a public reprimand and pay $3,000 in fines.
Arnold’s appeal names eight members of the ethics commission and Attorney General Jack Conway as defendants, and asks the court to rescind its reprimand as well as the fines levied against Arnold. It also asks the court to review the commission’s decision to enter a closed executive session at the May 7 hearing, which was objected to by several members of the media whom were present.
Arnold was found guilty in a 5-1 vote of the commission.
The commission initially failed to convict Arnold at an April 8 hearing due to a technicality: Five votes are needed for the commission to take any action, but due to a shortage of members and the dissension of commission member Elmer George, the votes against Arnold were 4-1. Cooper and Costner filed motions with the commission asking it to reconsider their case, which the commission did on May 7 after public outcry.
Rep. Joni Jenkins, D-Louisville, introduced an amendment to a bill during the 2014 regular session of the Kentucky General Assembly that would have expanded the scope of the ethics commission’s powers and jurisdiction, but it died in the Senate.
A separate civil suit filed in Franklin Circuit Court by Costner and Cooper against Arnold is still in the works, according to their attorney, Thomas Clay. Clay said he is still accumulating evidence against Arnold and the Legislative Research Commission.