A former staffer with the Kentucky State Board of Elections has filed a civil lawsuit against the board, alleging he was fired for reporting suspected mismanagement and violations of law by the Office of the Kentucky Secretary of State.
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Franklin Circuit Court by Matthew Selph, a former assistant to the State Board of Elections, alleges the board violated the state’s “whistleblower” statute when it fired him. He alleges the board and Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes knew that he had filed formal complaints alleging mismanagement and potential violations of law with an assistant to the secretary of state, four members of the State Board of Elections and the Executive Branch Ethics Commission.
“Selph was subjected to retaliation and reprisal, which culminated in Selph’s termination on October 24, 2017, at a time when Secretary of State Grimes, Assistant Secretary of State Thurston, and others would have known of his protected disclosures,” the lawsuit said.
Grimes is chairwoman of the State Board of Elections. On Wednesday, Bradford Queen, a spokesman for Grimes, again called Selph’s accusations “baseless and politically motivated.”
“The State Board of Elections will vigorously defend this suit,” Queen said. “The executive director and assistant to the director are political appointees and serve at its pleasure. The board determined it was time for a new direction in leadership for the protection of its employees and the betterment of the agency.”
The complaints mentioned in the lawsuit match those of a memo Selph sent to four members of the board prior to a meeting in which he and former executive director Maryellen Allen were fired. Neither Selph nor Allen were given a reason for their dismissal at the time of their firing.
In both the lawsuit and the memo, Selph notes five instances when he feared mismanagement or improper activity by Grimes’ office.
He alleges that employees of Grimes improperly gained access to the state’s voter registration system and that her office overstepped its authority by improperly entering the State Board of Elections into financial contracts, among other things.