Politics & Government

Pulaski County clerk accused of firing two employees for political reasons

SOMERSET — The Pulaski County clerk fired two employees because they supported his opponent in the May 2010 primary, the two allege in a federal lawsuit.

The lawsuit claims Clerk Ralph Troxtell retaliated against Teri Fox and Kim Hunley for political reasons, violating their First Amendment rights and state and federal law.

Troxtell, a Republican, won the clerk's office in 2006 and won re-election in 2010.

Lana Crawford opposed Troxtell in the May primary, and Fox and Hunley worked openly for the challenger, according to the lawsuit.

Troxtell allegedly told a former deputy clerk before the election that whoever "was not for him would get what they deserve," the lawsuit said.

Fox and Hunley were the only two deputies among the 20-plus employees in the office who openly worked for Troxtell's opponent, and they were the only two not rehired Dec. 31, the lawsuit says.

Troxtell was a magistrate in the 1990s when several county employees alleged they'd been fired for political reasons.

The county paid a judgment, attorney fees and interest totaling $1 million in a federal lawsuit in that case, according to Prestonsburg attorney Ned Pillersdorf, who represented those employees.

The new lawsuit seeks unspecified damages to compensate Fox and Hunley for lost wages and other damages, as well as an order reinstating them. It also seeks $1 million in damages for each from Troxtell individually to punish him.

Pillersdorf filed the lawsuit for the fired employees in federal court in London on Thursday.

Troxtell has not responded in court and was not available for comment Thursday after the lawsuit was filed.