Wildlife Commission violated Open Meetings Act in hiring Storm

Update from June 17, 2021:

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – An Oldham County man filed a lawsuit Wednesday in Franklin Circuit Court asking for a temporary and permanent injunction removing Rich Storm as commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources and void his contract, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Larry Richards also asks the court to find that the commission violated the Kentucky Open Meetings Act “in partaking in closed meetings for unauthorized purposes and without sufficient public notice” and fine it $100 for each violation, according to the newspaper report.

The lawsuit names the commission and its board chairman, Karl Clinard.  Clinard told the newspaper he hadn’t seen the lawsuit and had no comment.  The spokesman for the department told the Herald-Leader Commissioner Storm had not seen the lawsuit so it would be premature to comment.

This spring, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron ruled the commission violated the state Open Meetings Act three times this year and last during its discussions of hiring Storm as commissioner.

Storm was first hired as commissioner in 2019 during the Bevin Administration.  The Beshear Administration stopped paying Storm’s salary in July 2020 as the governor argued with the commission over who could appoint the commissioner.

During this year’s legislative session, lawmakers overrode a gubernatorial veto of a new law that allows the Fish and Wildlife board to appoint its own commissioner and set the salary with the approval of the Government Contract Review Committee, according to the report.

A lawsuit over the authority of the commission is before the Kentucky Court of Appeals.

 

Original story below from May 25, 2021:

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – The ongoing saga over the on-again, off-again hiring of Rich Storm to be Fish and Wildlife Commissioner took another turn last week.

Attorney General Daniel Cameron ruled the Fish and Wildlife Commission violated the state’s Open Meetings act in January 2020 and twice last month during its discussions of hiring Storm as Commissioner.

But the rulings said the violations were technical in nature.

It’s unclear whether the rulings could force the commission to at least go through the motions one more time to hire Storm.

Ironically, while Cameron ruled in this case, he also is representing the Commission in a lawsuit against the state over its authority to hire the commissioner.

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