Kentucky State Police will investigate former Legislative Research Commission Director Robert Sherman’s destruction of agency documents two days after his resignation, a KSP spokesman confirmed Thursday.
“We’ve assigned it to the special investigative branch, and we will have an investigator assigned to this effective, I think, today or tomorrow,” Sgt. Richard Saint-Blancard said.
He declined to discuss additional details of the probe, only to say the investigation will begin once an investigator has been assigned.
Sherman told The Courier-Journal that he and other members of LRC staff shredded records in his office Sunday, but he said no records regarding the agency’s investigation into sexual harassment complaints against former Democratic Rep. John Arnold of Sturgis.
Roy Collins, assistant director for human resources and personnel, told The State Journal Sherman was allowed to keep his access badge so he could clean out his office this weekend and returned it before leaving Sunday. Collins said was among those present in Sherman’s office this weekend.
Sherman left the agency as two legislative staffers threaten lawsuits in LRC’s handling of their allegations of sexual harassment by Arnold. Sherman did not return a call on his cell phone seeking comment.
House Speaker Greg Stumbo asked KSP to “take whatever actions it deems appropriate” in a letter Wednesday that included a call from House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, for a prompt investigation by KSP.
Acting LRC administrator Robert Jenkins, a deputy director who was among those in Sherman’s office when records were destroyed, said he welcomed an independent review and hoped the investigation will put the matter to rest.
Jenkins sent a memo to Senate President Robert Stivers and Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, Tuesday saying the shredded records included interoffice communications, salary comparisons, committee appointments and other routine memos.
He reiterated to The State Journal that nothing destroyed would be involved in litigation threatened by two female staffers in House Democratic leadership who claim Arnold sexually harassed them and LRC did not take appropriate action in rectifying the matter.
LRC will “absolutely” cooperate with KSP’s investigation, Jenkins said.
“I will certainly cooperate fully, and I would anticipate that everyone else who is here will as well,” he said.
Stivers, R-Manchester, sent a memo to KSP Lt. Matt Johnson Wednesday, asking state police keep his office informed of any findings in the investigation.
Brian Wilkerson, Stumbo’s spokesman, referred to Stumbo’s request that KSP take appropriate steps in investigating the destruction of LRC documents by Sherman.
“They’re doing what we’ve asked them to do, to get a look at the matter and see where it should go from there,” Wilkerson said.
Hoover said KSP's decision to investigate the shredded documents is "appropriate."
"I am appreciative that the Speaker agreed with the concerns spelled out in my letter requesting an investigation by the Kentucky State Police," he said in a statement.
Thomas Clay, a Louisville attorney representing Yolanda Costner and Cassaundra Cooper in their complaints of sexual harassment against Arnold, expressed concerns about KSP taking a lead role in the investigation since the agency relies on the General Assembly for its funding.
“I think there’s a very close relationship between KSP and the Legislature,” Clay said. “I think the Legislature’s responsible for KSP’s budget, and I’ve got reservations about it, to put it mildly.”
It also will be difficult for state police to prove what documents Sherman and others shredded Sunday, he said.