State police conclude no laws broken when former legislative chief shredded documents

jbrammer@herald-leader.comMay 29, 2014 

Robert Sherman

FRANKFORT — A Kentucky State Police investigation has concluded no laws were broken when former Legislative Research Commission director Bobby Sherman returned to his Capitol office last September and shredded documents two days after he resigned.

Louisville attorney Thomas Clay, who is representing two female legislative staffers who allege that former state Rep. John Arnold, D-Sturgis, sexually harassed them, asked the state police last September to investigate the incident to find out if Sherman destroyed records related to that case.

KSP spokesman Paul Blanton said Thursday that the investigation was completed within the past week and no criminal act was found.

"There is no basis for any allegation of wrongdoing pertaining to the original complaint and no other wrongdoing was found," Blanton said. "The case is closed and is marked 'disposition unfounded.'"

He said copies of the investigative file would not be available for about another week, giving supervisors time to officially sign off on it.

Sherman was not immediately available for comment Thursday.

Clay said that he had not heard from the state police and that he wants to see their final report. He said his own investigation of the shredding is not finished.

"I plan to take Sherman's deposition about it and all others who were involved," he said.

Sherman told the Courier-Journal last year that he went with other LRC staffers on a Sunday two days after he resigned to clean out his Capitol office, and that, in doing so, he shredded documents. None of the paperwork, he told the newspaper, involved sexual harassment allegations or any investigations involving the agency.

Legislative aides Yolanda Costner and Cassaundra Cooper have alleged in lawsuits that Arnold touched them inappropriately and made vulgar comments. They also called for Sherman's resignation, alleging that he did not respond appropriately to their allegations. Arnold has denied wrongdoing.

This month, the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission found Arnold guilty of three ethics charges in a case brought by Costner, Cooper and Gloria Morgan, another legislative staffer.

On a vote of 5-1, the commission issued a $1,000 fine and a public reprimand on each charge against Arnold.

Clay was not the only one who sought a state police investigation of the shredding.

House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, urged Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, and House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, last September "to request the Kentucky State Police to promptly investigate this matter.

"The citizens of the commonwealth are owed the assurance of knowing their government operates in an ethical matter," Hoover said at the time.

Hoover said Thursday that he never had reason to suspect that criminal wrongdoing occurred with the shredding.

"I was concerned about the perception of the shredding of public documents on a Sunday afternoon," he said. "As a matter of public trust, I thought it proper that the state police investigate."

Jack Brammer: (502) 227-1198. Twitter: @BGPolitics. Blog: bluegrasspolitics.bloginky.com

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