A state judge ruled Thursday that Thomas Elliott can stay on the governing board of the Kentucky Retirement Systems but won’t be allowed to vote.
In a six-page order, Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd responded to a request from Gov. Matt Bevin to remove Elliott from the board because he skipped a meeting last month.
Bevin attempted to remove the former chairman of the board earlier this year. Elliott sued, and last month Shepherd temporarily blocked Bevin’s order. But Elliott didn’t attend the board’s next meeting. Bevin’s attorney, Steve Pitt, said skipping the meeting demonstrated Elliott’s “lack of commitment.”
Elliott said at a hearing Wednesday that he didn’t attend the meeting because he was fearful after the Bevin administration had sent two armed state troopers to the April meeting where he was removed.
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Bevin press secretary Amanda Stamper said in a statement Bevin is pleased with the court’s ruling.
“Elliott continues to fight transparency at every turn, risking our state worker’s retirement accounts,” Stamper said. “Even worse, he is now asking KRS to use retirees’ money to pay his personal legal fees so that he can continue this unethical political lawsuit.”
Dana Collins, an attorney for Elliott, said, “We are planning to move forward with our case and find out whether the governor can remove members without cause.”
Collins said Elliott plans to attend the pension board’s meetings until a final decision is made in the case.
The pension board was scheduled to meet Thursday, but that meeting was canceled Wednesday night.
An email from KRS said the meeting was canceled because “a number of directors now indicate they cannot be present due to the short notice.” The meeting will be rescheduled as soon as possible, it said.
Shepherd said Elliott, a Louisville banker appointed to the state pension board five years ago by then-Gov. Steve Beshear, should stay on the board in the event he wins his case.