FRANKFORT — A complaint filed with the Legislative Ethics Commission contends that Republican agriculture commissioner nominee James Comer violated state law by using public personnel for his campaign.
The complaint also alleges that Comer, a state representative from Tompkinsville, deliberately destroyed key evidence associated with the case.
The complaint was filed by Lexington attorney Franklin Paisley on behalf of Comer's Democratic opponent, Bob Farmer, said Farmer spokesman Brian Wright.
Comer did not respond to a phone call and email seeking comment.
The Farmer campaign said Comer should "publicly admit his wrongdoing and face the voters of Kentucky with the truth."
State law says a candidate may not use public funds, time or personnel for partisan political campaign activity.
The complaint against Comer says campaign finance records filed with the state Registry of Election Finance show that Comer contracted Michael Goins, whose wife owns Blue Sky Communications, to assist in his campaign. Goins also is a state employee in the House Republican Minority Caucus.
The complaint contends that Goins repeatedly has produced campaign work product during state business hours.
The complaint said that information obtained through an Open Records request to the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission shows that Goins repeatedly posted campaign material during state business hours on a Comer Internet site controlled by Comer.
Most of the postings were made on week days between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., the complaint said.
It also produced time sheets signed by Goins and obtained through the Open Records request.
Goins declined to comment.
His wife, Beth Goins, said in a statement that she is "confident that the complaint filed on behalf of the Farmer campaign will be found to be without merit. It's unfortunate that the time and resources of the Kentucky Ethics Commission will now be spent on this baseless claim filed in bad faith.
"This is, in my opinion, another bad joke by the Farmer campaign. I hope this is resolved quickly so that the voters of Kentucky can move on to the important agriculture issues at hand."
House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, said in a statement, "I am confident there has been no wrongdoing on the part of Rep. Comer as alleged by his opponent. I have reviewed the allegations with our staff and LRC personnel, and I have seen no evidence which causes me any concern."
The complaint alleges that when Comer was alerted of the inquiry, he destroyed key computer evidence.
Paisley is requesting that during the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission probe, it also determine whether further violations have been committed by Goins and Comer.