Gov. Matt Bevin’s attorney says the office will appeal a judge’s ruling that temporarily blocks the governor’s removal of the former chair of one of the state’s pension boards.
Kentucky Retirement Systems board chair Tommy Elliott sued the governor for removing him from the panel in April, three years before his term was set to expire. Attorney General Andy Beshear joined the lawsuit in June after Bevin abolished and reorganized the board, adding four new members.
On Monday evening, Franklin Circuit Court Judge Philip Shepherd ruled that Elliott should remain on the board while the case is still pending. Shepherd denied a request to temporarily block Bevin’s overhaul of the board.
Steve Pitt, Bevin’s general counsel, said the order was “inconsistent and improper” because Elliott was never a member of the governor’s newly constituted board.
“We will appeal the issue relating to the judicial appointment of Mr. Elliott to a board on which he was never a member,” Pitt said. “You may recognize that he was removed from a board that was abolished and that the court in its order yesterday recognized that it had been abolished.”
After the judge’s ruling on Monday evening, the governor’s office released a statement criticizing Elliott’s record on the KRS board.
“Under Tommy Elliott’s chairmanship the KRS had an abysmal investment track record and operated under a shroud of secrecy,” the statement said.
When he removed Elliott from the board in April, Bevin said he was giving the agency a “fresh start.”
KRS manages pensions for about 120,000 state employees and has only 17 percent of the money it needs to make future payments. The agency has been criticized for keeping billions of dollars in investments that are concealed from public view.
Shepherd’s ruling Monday means that the governor’s newly constituted KRS board will meet along with Elliott.
Elliott did not participate in a meeting of the KRS investment committee that was held Tuesday morning. According to KRS’ Twitter account, Elliott was out of town.
The KRS board of directors is scheduled to select an interim executive director of the state agency on Wednesday morning. Current Executive Director Bill Thielen is retiring at the end of the month.