Environment

A former state mine inspector indicted for taking bribes from a state lawmaker to ignore environmental violations is now facing charges from the Executive Branch Ethics Commission.

The commission charged Kelly Shortridge with four counts of violating state ethics laws for his part in a scheme with Democratic state Rep. W. Keith Hall. A federal grand jury has indicted Hall for paying Shortridge more than $46,000 to ignore mine reclamation violations at some mines Hall owned. Shortridge is accused of trying to extort more money from Hall and for lying to federal agents.

Both Hall and Shortridge have pleaded not guilty in federal court. The ethics commission unveiled a formal complaint against Shortridge that could lead to a civil penalty after a formal hearing. The commission has no jurisdiction over Hall, but can take action against Shortridge because he was a state employee at the time.

From the complaint:

Specifically, between 2009 through 2012, Shortridge failed to perform his duties as a mine inspector for mining operations owned by an individual who was providing Shortridge with monetary payments in the form of bribes totaling approximately $46,000 to induce Shortridge not to issue citations against the mining operations for failure to abide by the surface mine reclamation laws and regulations governing the mining operations assigned to Shortridge for inspection.

Hall represented Pike County for 14 years before being defeated in the May primary.