Politics

Kentucky legislative leaders on Wednesday gave the final approval to hire David Byerman as the new director of the Legislative Research Commission, the state agency that provides administrative support to legislators.

Byerman is the former secretary of the Nevada State Senate; his duties included serving as the chamber’s chief administrative officer and parliamentarian. He also managed a $21.5 million biennial budget and oversaw about 90 employees.

Byerman is the first director of the LRC since Bobby Sherman resigned from the position in 2013. Sherman was accused of overseeing an agency that did not protect employees from alleged sexual harassment by state lawmakers.

“We think this is a new day,” said Senate President Robert Stivers, a Republican from Manchester.

Stivers said the agency would be “far more transparent than it has been in the past.”

In August 2013, the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting and WFPL News reported that two LRC staffers had accused then-Rep. John Arnold, a Sturgis Democrat, of inappropriately touching them. They also alleged that the LRC did too little to protect them.

Legislative leaders say Byerman will be charged with reforming the state agency, which according to an audit released earlier this year, suffers from low morale and unclear personnel policies.

“There needs to be some structural changes to that,” said House Speaker Greg Stumbo, a Prestonsburg Democrat.

“One of the criticisms that hasn’t been refuted is that Mr. Sherman favored people, not necessarily for their abilities but just because he had personal preferences. That’s not a way to run a business.”

The 2013 lawsuit alleged that Sherman covered up sexual harassment accusations while he was the director of the LRC.

David ByermanSubmitted

David Byerman

The lawsuit was officially dismissed earlier this month after the state settled the case for $400,000.

Stumbo said Sherman paid additional money to the plaintiffs in order to have the case dismissed, though details of that additional settlement haven’t been revealed.

About 40 candidates, including several current employees of the LRC, applied for the director position.

Stivers said he and other legislative leaders believed that an external candidate would better be able to implement reforms outlined by the audit.

Byerman will start on Oct. 1. He will receive a two-year contract, an annual salary of $135,000 and will be eligible for a 5 percent raise after six months on the job. He will also receive $20,000 for relocation costs. He currently lives in Las Vegas.

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