Politics

The process of hiring a new permanent director for the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission will begin Wednesday, the leaders of both legislative chambers said.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, a Democrat from Prestonsburg, on Tuesday said the new director will be responsible for reforming the state agency.

“And [the LRC] needs to be constantly monitored, which is probably the biggest flaw of the entire LRC situation,” Stumbo said. “There was not enough independent monitoring to make sure the director was doing what the director should have been doing.”

The state agency has been under the leadership of an interim director, Marcia Seiler, since former director Robert Sherman retired in September 2013. Sherman resigned amid accusations that he didn’t do enough to address sexual harassment in the Statehouse. He was also accused of having a long-running personal relationship with a subordinate LRC staffer.

The state agency has been under intense scrutiny since August 2013, when three LRC staffers accused former Rep. John Arnold, a Democrat from Sturgis, of sexual harassment. Arnold resigned from his position and is still fighting a lawsuit over the allegations. He was fined $3,000 by the Kentucky Ethics Commission.

Stivers said he wasn’t satisfied with the recent audit of the LRC and wanted do know more about how other states deal with maintaining a professional, impartial administrative staff in a state capitol.

“So the balancing approach is to make sure this is a nonpartisan, apolitical staff but that you have certain controls on, but not too many controls on because you don’t want there to be a hint of preference or partisanship between chambers or parties,” Stivers said.

Stivers predicted that a new LRC director would be hired by July 1.

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