Two former members of the Kentucky General Assembly were recently convicted of illegal activities in which they engaged while serving as legislators.
Although neither was convicted of a crime related to misuse of his legislative office, part of what their convictions demonstrate is that legislators' actions are subject to a high level of public scrutiny, even when they are outside the legislative arena.
Last week, a U.S. District Court jury in Pikeville found former Rep. Keith Hall of Phelps guilty of paying over $46,000 in bribes to a state coal mine inspector to ignore violations at Hall's surface mines. According to Hall's indictment, bribes were paid between May 2009 and December 2010 by two of Hall's coal companies to a shell company created by Hall and the mine inspector. During that time period, the U.S. Attorney said the inspector ignored violations that occurred on Hall's property. The U.S. Attorney said the evidence established that the two men disguised the payments as consulting fees.
In April, former Rep. Ben Waide of Madisonville pled guilty in Franklin Circuit Court to attempting to accept illegal campaign contributions and attempted unlawful campaign expenditures. Waide's crimes relate to his 2010 campaign for state representative, and he was charged after a complaint filed with the Registry of Election Finance by shareholders of a company partly owned by Waide. Waide illegally accepted campaign contributions from the company, used campaign funds for illegal expenditures, and sought personal reimbursements for campaign advertising expenses that were either nonexistent or paid for by the company.