I have taken a few days to reflect on the outcome of the legal accusations against me, and a few things have become clear. Primarily, faith will get you through the toughest trials, and secondly, the truth will prevail.
I want to thank the hundreds of family, friends, constituents and strangers for their outpouring of support throughout this ordeal. There have been many naysayers, some angry and threatening, but there have been just as many supportive words, kind letters and calls, and heads held high in solidarity with my family and me as we fought the untrue charges brought against me.
In January, I was pulled over for speeding in Frankfort. Of this, I am and was found guilty. It is not my first speeding ticket — and I assume it will not be my last — and it is something anyone who spends as many hours driving as I do understandably struggles to correct.
I was, however, not drunk or drinking and driving. This is undeniably clear.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Lexington Herald-Leader
As a legislator, especially one in rural Kentucky, I spend hours on the road. This particular 36 hours was spent driving to Lexington for meetings, back to Hazard to spend the last night before the 2015 legislative session began with my wife and youngest daughter, and back to Frankfort. I attended a full day of legislative meetings, voted on the Senate floor and then joined family as we packed up boxes for a loved one who had moved into a nursing home.
For anyone who has undertaken this task, it is emotional and exhausting but well worth the effort to make those close to you comfortable. We laughed and shared stories and I made an early night of it, stopping at a convenience store before heading to my apartment to get a good night's rest. Or so I thought.
I will not say a negative thing about the arresting officer because it is not my job to judge his actions, and I thank him for his service to our commonwealth.
I complied with every request of me and asked only for the rights allotted to every citizen. I was released within a short amount of time and taken to my truck, which had been impounded. The incident was short, but being in the situation was a surreal and alarming experience.
The sequence of events that followed was equally as surreal. As a public figure, I understand that I am fair game for the media. And the media came to play. The sensational firestorm of the accusation, a motion filed by my attorney without my knowledge and subsequent removal of that motion at my request were stunning.
I assure you there were more important things going on, however, this was a "top" story and because of the slanted coverage, the blowback was fierce.
Hateful emails, letters and calls bombarded my house and office. Innocent until proven guilty is a thing of the past. Guilty until proven innocent is the new normal.
Some, friends even, encouraged me to admit guilt to something I truly had not done. Admit guilt, pay a nominal fine, lose your license for a few weeks and this will all blow over, they said. And, in some of my weakest moments, in times I wanted dearly to protect my family and my district, I considered it. But my pride would not let me, and my faith directed me out.
I surrendered my license for four months awaiting a "speedy" trial, hired attorneys with my personal money and fought these charges.
It took the jury less than 10 minutes to find me not guilty. Not because they were ill-prepared or unsure, but because it was the evident truth.
Putting your fate and reputation in the hands of six strangers and a judge is frightening. But my faith in God and in the justice system in this country led me through those months and that day.
As an elected official, I owe it to my constituents to be the best that I can be. As a father and husband, I owe it to my family to do just the same thing. And you have my word I will continue to do that.