Justice Roach Implicated in Hiring Scandal
Roach has been accused by two former Transportation Cabinet officials of allegedly having knowledge as far back as January of improper merit system hiring practices in the cabinet – when he was Fletcher’s general counsel. Roach left Fletcher’s office on June 10 when he was appointed by Fletcher to replace retiring Justice James Keller. Former cabinet general counsel Frank Miller, Jr. told Ryan Alessi for his Sep. 30 story in The Herald-Leader that he told Roach in several meetings last winter about a “growing trend of complaints about political hiring.” Doerting told Alessi that Roach got personally involved in one merit system hiring decision.
Roach did not return Alessi’s phone calls. Fletcher spokesman Brett Hall said on Sep. 29 that Fletcher was never advised of anything improper at the cabinet by Roach or by anyone else before being informed in early May that Doerting told cabinet officials that he filed a complaint with the Executive Branch Ethics Commission. This revelation by Doerting was shortly before he contacted Stumbo’s office about May 10.
Miller, who was fired by Fletcher around July 15, said that he informed Roach last winter that an unusual number of cabinet employees were filing appeals to the state Personnel Board concerning the cabinet’s hiring practices.
In a recent deposition, Doerting said Roach was involved in filling the vacant administrative manager position – a merit system-covered job – in Jackson-based highway district 10. Three cabinet employees applied for the position: Billy Jack Montgomery, who eventually got it; Ron Easter; and Jim Maggard. Alessi wrote that e-mails by Murgatroyd and Druen also indicate that Roach was involved.
State Sen. Julian Carroll (D-Frankfort), former governor from 1974-1979 and a lawyer, said that the governor’s general counsel has “an obligation to the governor to advise whether further exploration is needed” in such a case as this. “In my judgment, the legal advice given to the governor early on was non-existent – in that no advice was given – or was certainly bad advice,” Carroll said.