Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

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February 24, 2014

Arnold hearing postponed; House meeting as scheduled

FRANKFORT — The Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission agreed Monday to postpone a hearing scheduled for Tuesday for former state Rep. John Arnold, D-Sturgis, charged with sexual harassment by three female legislative employees.

The decision came at the request of Arnold’s attorney, Steven Downey of Bowling Green, who filed a motion with the commission contending Arnold, 69, is suffering from “some sort of dementia,” and asked the commission for more time for doctors to evaluate him.

The postponement also means several state lawmakers who were subpoenaed to attend the hearing are now free instead to attend a campaign event in Louisville for Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes, headlined by former President Bill Clinton. Grimes is the likely Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by incumbent Republican Mitch McConnell.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, claims the subpoenas violate Section 43 of the Kentucky Constitution which provides a measure of legal immunity for lawmakers while they are in session.

Stumbo previously said he wouldn’t honor the subpoena he’d received and Friday afternoon filed a motion in Franklin Circuit Court to quash the subpoenas.

He said Monday the postponement of Tuesday’s hearing rendered that motion “moot,” but said if a subsequent hearing is scheduled during the legislative session, which ends on April 15, he’d again challenge any subpoena to appear. Otherwise, Stumbo said, he is happy to attend a hearing and answer questions.

Stumbo also announced the Democratic-controlled House will convene in chambers at its usual time of 2 p.m. Tuesday. Last week he’d indicated the House might reschedule its session for 4 p.m. to allow lawmakers to attend the event featuring Clinton.

But he said Monday he’d forgotten that the annual “Fallen Heroes” observance for families of soldiers who’ve been killed was scheduled for Tuesday, and “We’re going to honor them.”

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