Three legislative leaders have set a Wednesday meeting of the Legislative Research Commission to begin searching for former LRC Director Robert Sherman’s successor.
Senate President Robert Stivers, Senate Minority Leader R.J. Palmer and House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover signed a letter Friday calling for the meeting. They said Sherman’s abrupt resignation Sept. 20 has left “a leadership vacuum” in LRC.
“Mr. Sherman designated Robert Jenkins the administrator in charge,” the letter reads. “This designation was temporary until such time that the full commission could meet and take action.”
The search will be the first time lawmakers have sought a new director for LRC since Sherman’s hire in 1998.
“This is a critical position and will not be easy to fill,” the letter reads.
House Majority Caucus Chair Sannie Overly asked in a letter Friday to expand the agenda of Wednesday’s meeting to include an investigation into how Sherman accessed LRC offices and property after his resignation, a full list of documents destroyed and potential discipline for those involved in the shredding.
“Because professional and credible administration of the agency is of paramount importance, especially at this time, it is imperative that we address these matters as soon as possible,” Overly wrote in the letter.
Roy Collins, LRC assistant director for human resources and personnel, told The State Journal this week that Sherman had arranged to clean out his office Sunday and turned over his keys and identification badge before leaving.
House Speaker Greg Stumbo agreed with calling the Wednesday meeting.
“I think it is a good idea,” he said in a statement. “We need to appoint an interim acting director and lay the groundwork for conducting the search for a replacement director.”
Sherman said in his resignation letter he had contemplated retirement recently, but felt the timing was right after the agency had completed an investigation into sexual harassment claims against former Rep. John Arnold, D-Sturgis by two women who work with House Democratic leadership.
Louisville attorney Thomas Clay, who represents the women, Yolanda Costner and Cassaundra Cooper, has disputed LRC’s claim that it appropriately resolved his clients’ sexual harassment complaints. He has said a lawsuit in the matter is imminent.
Sherman’s resignation brought controversy after he admitted to The Courier-Journal he and other LRC staffers shredded documents in his former Capitol office Sept. 22, though he said none of the destroyed documents had anything to do with the sexual harassment investigation.
Kentucky State Police opened an investigation into the document destruction Thursday.
In all, three LRC staffers have alleged sexual harassment against Arnold, who resigned from the General Assembly Sept. 13. He has maintained his innocence, but conceded the allegations destroyed him politically.
A fourth LRC employee, Nicole Cusic, has alleged retaliation by Rep. Will Coursey, D-Symsonia, after she confronted him about inappropriate conduct toward an intern and another staffer. Cusic said she was transferred to Senate Republican offices after speaking with Coursey, who has denied any wrongdoing about his conduct.
Clay, who also represents Cusic, said in a letter to LRC Wednesday that a lawsuit will be filed against LRC, Sherman and Coursey.