Politics

The drama between Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton and Gov. Matt Bevin continues following the firing of one of her staffers at the hands of the Bevin administration.

Hampton issued a statement on Tuesday saying Bevin’s chief of staff Blake Brickman “clearly overstepped his boundaries” when he fired her deputy chief of staff last month.

“Every Kentuckian should be concerned that an unelected bureaucrat appears to have power over the office of the Lieutenant Governor,” Hampton wrote in the statement. “I am perplexed by the vacuous decision to deprive an active, productive Lieutenant Governor of her staff.”

Brickman said over the weekend that he fired Adrienne Southworth, Hampton’s deputy chief of staff, because she repeatedly demonstrated poor judgment.

Brickman accused Southworth of misusing state property and lobbying state legislators to pass legislation that provided leniency to sex offenders without authorization from the Bevin administration.

Until Tuesday, Hampton had remained silent on the issue with the exception of a cryptic tweet drawing attention to Southworth’s firing and requesting prayers as she battles “dark forces.”

Hampton’s relationship with Bevin has been strained since he didn’t select her for his re-election ticket, choosing state Sen. Ralph Alvarado instead.

The Bevin administration also fired Hampton’s chief of staff Steve Knipper earlier this year, citing an administration policy that forbids officials from keeping their jobs while they run for elected office. Knipper ran for Secretary of State this year, but lost in the Republican primary.

In her statement, Hampton said that she was “pursuing action” to reinstate her staff and that she would “serve the remaining months of my term as I began it:  joyful, faithful, humble.”

Bevin selected Hampton to be his running mate for his 2015 campaign and, when they won, Hampton became the first African-American elected to statewide office in Kentucky.

The lieutenant governor’s office is largely symbolic though a lieutenant governor becomes governor in the event of a governor’s death or incapacitation.

The growing feud isn’t the first time a governor and lieutenant governor have publicly come at odds while still in office.

Former Lt. Gov. Steve Pence dropped off Gov. Ernie Fletcher’s re-election ticket following a scandal that involved political supporters being handed protected state jobs. Fletcher called for Pence to resign, but he refused.

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