FRANKFORT — Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear is appointing his fourth Republican state legislator to a new job.
State Rep. Danny Ford of Mount Vernon, who has been in the state House since 1982 and is retiring at year's end, is to become surplus property director in the Finance and Administration Cabinet, effective Jan. 2.
Ford's "lifelong career as an auctioneer and Realtor makes him uniquely qualified for this position," said Beshear spokeswoman Kerri Richardson when asked why Beshear has given Ford a state job.
Asked about the job, Ford said, "I like a challenge and look forward to assisting any way I can to help the state in handling surplus property.
"I have 40 years of experience in this line of work and think I can be of benefit. I think that's why I got the job."
Ford, 60, is the longest-serving Republican House member since 1900. His 80th House District includes Lincoln, Rockcastle and part of Pulaski counties.
Ford will make $85,000 a year in the state position that has been vacant since spring, Richardson said.
That would put him in line for an enhanced state pension.
In 2005, the state legislature approved a retirement sweetener that allows Kentucky's part-time lawmakers to receive higher retirement if they get better paying government jobs for at least three years.
Ford's legislative pension would amount to about $50,000 a year. If he combines that with benefits from his state job, that could increase his pension to about $85,000 a year.
In recent years, Beshear's appointment of three Republican legislators to state jobs at higher salaries and enhanced pensions has been viewed as a way for him to erode Republican power in the legislature, especially in the GOP-controlled Senate.
In October, Beshear appointed then-Senate President David Williams of Burkesville to fill an open circuit court judgeship in southern Kentucky.
Williams had long been viewed as an obstacle to Beshear's legislative agenda, especially passage of expanded gambling.
Beshear also appointed Charlie Borders of Greenup County, the Senate budget chairman, to the Public Service Commission and Dan Kelly, the Senate majority leader of Springfield, to a circuit judgeship in 2009.
Williams, Borders and Kelly all said their decisions to accept Beshear's appointments were based on public service, not enhanced pensions.