FRANKFORT — The Republican majority of the Kentucky Senate voted late Tuesday to not confirm eight of Gov. Steve Beshear's nominees for boards and commissions.
The move angered the Democratic minority, who said many of the nominees were eminently qualified and deserved a full, public hearing by the Senate rather than a last-minute rejection on partisan terms.
After repeated questions from Senate Democrats, Senate Republicans would not turn over detailed information about the confirmation process.
The rejected nominees — some of them appointed by Beshear months ago and already serving — are Joe Childers for the Mine Safety Review Commission; Cecil Dunn for the Personnel Board; Marvin Russow and Lawrence O'Bryan for the Kentucky Employers' Mutual Insurance Authority; David M. Williams for the Fish and Wildlife Resources Commission; and Monica Ann Edmonds, Maria "Sally" Mooney and Thomas Whetstone for the Parole Board.
Meanwhile, Senate Republicans unanimously supported nominee Franklin Stivers for the Kentucky Workers Compensation Board. Franklin Stivers is the brother of Senate Majority Leader Robert Stivers, R-Manchester.
In particular, several Democratic senators defended Childers, an environmental lawyer and mining expert in Lexington, who had been a finalist to head the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration for the Obama administration. Years ago Childers played a leading role in the end of the broad-form deed, which allowed coal companies to strip-mine land without owners' permission.
"He is a very, very smart man and a very, very fine attorney," said state Sen. Ray Jones, D-Pikeville.
Contacted late Tuesday, Childers said he was never interviewed by the Senate as part of the confirmation process, but he declined to comment further.
Sen. Robin Webb, D-Grayson, said she has never seen such a political move and that it should motivate some senators to read the Senate rules, the Constitution and the Bible.
Robert Stivers said the action was the prerogative of the Senate GOP caucus. If the Republicans wanted to make it political, he said, they would not have approved Jodie Haydon of Bardstown for the state lottery board. Haydon lost a race to Sen. Jimmy Higdon, R-Lebanon, in 2009.