FRANKFORT — Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear is weighing whether a Republican on the state Board of Elections should be removed for possibly violating state law that says members cannot run for public office.
Albany attorney David M. Cross, appointed by Beshear to the board in November 2010 for a four-year term, tried unsuccessfully this month to secure the Republican nomination for an open state Senate seat in south-central Kentucky vacated by former Senate President David Williams.
Cross notified the Registry of Election Finance Oct. 31 of his intent to raise and spend more than $1,000 and less than $3,000 to run for the Senate seat. He also had flyers printed with his photo, saying he is a "candidate for the Republican nomination for State Senate 16th District" to be chosen by party leaders in the district.
However, GOP leaders in the 16th Senate District chose state Rep. Sara Beth Gregory of Monticello for the Dec. 18 special election. She is being challenged by Democrat Bill Conn, a Williamsburg Independent schoolteacher. The 16th District includes Clinton, Cumberland, McCreary, Monroe, Wayne and Whitley counties.
State law says no appointed member of the state Board of Elections "shall be a candidate for public office." The board consists of the secretary of state and six members appointed by the governor.
The law defines a candidate as any person who raises and spends money (even his or her own) to bring about his or her nomination or election.
Beshear spokesman Terry Sebastian confirmed that Beshear's office is reviewing whether Cross should be removed from the State Board of Elections for making campaign expenditures as a candidate.
Cross said Wednesday, "As a member of the Board of Elections, I have been appointed by the governor and I serve at his pleasure. If the governor ever asked me to resign, I would do so." He said he prefers to stay on the board and that he always thought he would not be a candidate unless he officially filed as one.
Asked why he printed campaign materials that said he was a candidate for the GOP nomination for the Senate seat, Cross said, "I was not a candidate under Kentucky law, but when I wanted to tell people quickly that I wanted to run for the Senate seat nomination I used that word."