Politics & Government

Jenean Hampton to Matt Bevin: Stop firing my staff without consulting me

Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton is demanding answers from Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration, after one of her top staffers was fired without her consent.

Left with only one staffer after the Bevin administration dismissed her deputy chief of staff, Hampton Friday fired off a letter to Troy Robinson, the executive director of the Finance and Administration cabinet, “negating” his action and warning him not to fire any of her employees without talking to her first.

“In the future, you are not to execute any personnel action involving my staff unless you have my express, written permission,” said the letter obtained by the Herald-Leader.

It is not clear that Hampton has the authority to reverse the firing. A spokesperson for the Finance and Administration Cabinet was not immediately available for comment.

Bevin told the Associated Press Monday that he didn’t know why Hampton’s staff member was fired and that he has spoken to Hampton about the issue.

The letter is the latest development in a power struggle between Bevin and Hampton, after Hampton was dropped from Bevin’s reelection ticket. Earlier this year, Hampton’s chief of staff, Steve Knipper, was fired without Hampton’s input when he decided to run for secretary of state. He lost in the Republican primary.

Hampton made it clear that she was not involved in the firing of Adrienne Southworth, saying she did not “authorize or advise” the termination and that she was not consulted in the decision.

“I fail to understand how my staff can be terminated without discussing matters with me, their immediate supervisor,” Hampton said. “Neither you nor anyone other than myself is positioned to determine if the services of my staffers are needed or not.”

Hampton ended the letter by directing the cabinet to reinstate Southworth and to respond in writing with details about why Southworth was fired by the end of Monday.

After Knipper was fired, Hampton attempted to file an executive order with the secretary of state’s office reinstating his position, but Knipper was not added back to the payroll. He has since filed a complaint with the Kentucky Personnel Board.

Hampton has strong support among Tea Party activists in Kentucky, some of whom have expressed their disappointment in the way Bevin has treated Hampton.

Herald-Leader reporter Bill Estep contributed reporting to this story