Kentucky transportation secretary to stand trial

| 2/28/2006

In spite of a pardon from the governor, Kentucky’s secretary of transportation isn’t getting off the hook that easily.

A judge ruled Monday, Feb. 27, that Sec. Bill Nighbert will have to stand trial for allegedly threatening a whistleblower in a state hiring scandal.

Gov. Ernie Fletcher issued a blanket pardon in the case, but the judge ruled that the amnesty did not extend to the retaliation charges facing Nighbert.

The charges stem from a Franklin County grand jury investigation of allegations that Fletcher’s administration based rank-and-file personnel hiring decisions on politics rather than qualifications, The Associated Press reported.

The grand jury has indicted 13 current and former officials and associates on misdemeanor charges.

In August 2005, the governor pardoned everyone who could be charged in the investigation, and while Nighbert argued that the pardon should include the retaliation allegations against him, the judge did not agree.

The AP reported that Nighbert’s jury trial is slated to begin July 26.