Politics & Government

Southern Kentucky judge faces misconduct charges

FRANKFORT — A Circuit Court judge for McCreary and Whitley counties has been charged with two counts of judicial misconduct for contributing money to U.S. Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign and for sending campaign material touting U.S. Sen. Rand Paul via e-mail.

Circuit Judge Daniel Ballou of Williamsburg was charged by the Judicial Conduct Commission in November for contributing $562 to McCain's campaign in 2008. Ballou also sent out an e-mail in January 2010 about Rand Paul's stance on the 2nd Amendment. The e-mail was sent to dozens of people, including other judges.

The judicial canons, which govern judicial conduct, say a judge "shall refrain from inappropriate political activity." According to the canons, political activity includes soliciting funds or making contributions to a political organization or candidate. The canons also say a judge cannot publicly endorse or oppose a candidate for public office.

Ballou denied the allegations in a motion filed with the Judicial Conduct Commission on Jan. 21. Ballou said the campaign donation to McCain occurred while Ballou was deployed on military duty in Iraq.

Ballou said he purchased several items that included McCain's likeness via the Internet. At the time, he did not know that those purchases would be considered a political donation, he said in court documents.

Ballou said the e-mail regarding Paul's 2nd Amendment stance was not intended as an endorsement or to take a political position.

Ballou said in documents that he had "forwarded an e-mail from his personal computer to a limited number of fellow judges, none of whom could be reasonably expected to be subject to improper political persuasion or influence."

According to the e-mail that was forwarded to the Judicial Conduct Commission, it appears Ballou sent the e-mail from his personal e-mail account to judges and dozens of other people. The e-mail said "FYI Rand Paul and the 2nd amendment."

Ballou also argues in documents that he has a First Amendment right to express his opinion.

A hearing date on the charges has not yet been set.