Kentucky Legislative Research Commission Audit Says Little About Sexual Harassment

The long-anticipated performance audit of the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission gives scant attention to the issue that led to the review—workplace sexual harassment.

The audit, conducted by the National Council of State Legislatures, was publicly released this week, though a draft report had been in the hands of legislative leaders since April.

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The Legislative Research Commission, which provides staff and support to Kentucky state legislators, came under scrutiny in 2013 after three Statehouse staffers accused then-state Rep. John Arnold of sexual harassment.

The General Assembly commissioned the audit in 2013 following the accusations that the state agency had done little to protect staffers from workplace sexual harassment.

But the report says little about the accusations of sexual harassment in the LRC and the General Assembly, though it did provide a review of the LRC’s sexual harassment training practices.

The report said NCSL’s reviewers received comments that online harassment training provided by the LRC was not taken seriously.

“While upper management can determine which employees do not complete the training via electronic record keeping, people are under the impression that there are no consequences for a failure to do so,” the report stated.

The NCSL went on to recommend that harassment training for LRC staff be dovetailed with training for legislators at the beginning of each session.

The report focused mostly on other workplace issues, such as communication problems, pay equity, hiring practices and creating career paths for young employees.

“There’s no rhyme or reason to raises,” said an anonymously quoted staffer in the report.

Another staffer stated: “Unless you’re a favorite, you’re not going to get anywhere.”

The audit cost about $42,000.

Though he denied the sexual harassment accusation, Arnold resigned in 2013 and was later fined by the state legislative ethics commission. LRC executive director Robert Sherman also retired amid the controversy.

Ryland Barton

Ryland Barton is the Capitol bureau chief for Kentucky Public Radio.