A judge said Wednesday that he might reconsider his decision to temporarily block Gov. Matt Bevin’s removal of Thomas Elliott from the Kentucky Retirement Systems’ governing board if Elliott doesn’t attend its meetings.
Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd, at a hearing Wednesday to determine the court schedule for Elliott’s lawsuit challenging Bevin’s authority to remove him from the pensions board, said he was concerned about media reports that Elliott didn’t attend a board meeting last week after he ruled that Elliott could stay on the board until the merits of the case are resolved.
If Elliott doesn’t attend the meetings, Shepherd said, he might have “a completely different view in granting injunctive relief.”
Elliott’s attorney, Kevin L. Chlarson of Louisville, said Elliott, who works for the Old National Bank in Louisville, was “stuck with obligations” and working out of town when a special meeting of the retirement systems board was held last week.
Chlarson said there was a scheduling conflict because Shepherd reinstated Elliott to the board only two days before the trustees meeting.
Elliott is now back on the board’s email list for meeting notices, and he will be informed of the court’s concern about his attendance, Chlarson said.
Bevin’s attorney, Steve Pitt, said he could understand the court’s concerns about Elliott’s absence from the meetings.
Elliott, who had been chairman of the pension board, initiated his lawsuit against Bevin in June. He had been appointed by former Gov. Steve Beshear. He is being supported by the office of Attorney General Andy Beshear.
In Shepherd’s ruling last week, he said Bevin can reorganize the board except appointing a replacement for Elliott until a final court decision is made.
After issuing an executive order removing Elliott from the board in April, Bevin issued another order to abolish the 13-member board and re-establish it under new rules with 17 members.
Bevin sent state police to a board meeting to threaten Elliott with arrest if he tried to participate in KRS business with other trustees.
Under Bevin’s change, 11 trustees will be appointed by the governor, including four to newly created positions. The six trustees who are independently elected by public employees and retirees will remain on the board.
Shepherd told lawyers on both sides Wednesday to inform him by the close of business Friday whether they need to take discovery in the lawsuit. That involves taking depositions and sharing information.
After that, Shepherd said he will set the court schedule for Elliott’s lawsuit.