FRANKFORT — The Legislative Ethics Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to dismiss a complaint that alleged state Rep. James Comer, the Republican nominee for agriculture commissioner, improperly used a state employee in his campaign.
The complaint was filed by the campaign of Comer's Democratic opponent, Bob Farmer. It alleged that a Republican legislative aide, Michael Goins, posted entries on Comer's Facebook page during state business hours, and that Goins owned a company, Blue Sky Communications, paid to work for Comer's campaign.
The complaint also alleged that Comer, of Tompkinsville, deliberately destroyed key computer evidence related to the case.
State law says a candidate may not use public funds, time or personnel for partisan political campaign activity.
In its dismissal order, the commission said Farmer's complaint contained significant errors. Goins does not own Blue Sky Communications, his wife does, the commission said. Of the eight Facebook postings in question, only two appear to have been made by Goins during business hours, and there was no evidence he was paid to do so, the commission said.
"The commission is troubled by the method in which the complaint was filed under oath when the complainant relied on unverified statements of facts provided by another individual," the commission said in its ruling.
Comer denied the allegations, and he said Tuesday he appreciated the ethics commission's dismissal.
"This was just an effort by a losing campaign to divert attention from the issues in our race and the fact that he has no relevant qualifications for the office," Comer said.
Brian Wright, a spokesman for Farmer, stood by the allegations.
"This ethics complaint was filed in good faith," Wright said. "We understand that it was filed during a campaign, and it's difficult to convince the commission to move against a candidate running for office."