The budget director of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, who was investigated by the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet for harassing other workers, has resigned.
Kenneth Scott King, program manager for accounting, grants, budget and capital construction at Fish and Wildlife, was placed on administrative leave June 21. That action came after the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet fielded allegations that King made “inappropriate and/or harassing comments and/or gestures towards Fish and Wildlife employees,” according to a June 20 letter to King from Tiffany Yeast, executive director of human resources for the cabinet, obtained by The State Journal through an open records request.
King voluntarily resigned his post as budget director in Fish and Wildlife’s Division of Administrative Services Oct. 28 in a letter to Yeast and Benjy Kinman, acting commissioner of Fish and Wildlife.
King’s resignation is the latest blow to an agency whose spending and personnel activities are under investigation by the Office of Inspector General in the cabinets of labor, public protection, and energy and environment at the behest of the tourism cabinet. The Executive Branch Ethics Commission is also reportedly examining Fish and Wildlife, though John Steffen, the commission’s executive director, has neither confirmed nor denied a probe.
Details of King’s misconduct are unclear, though the cabinet’s investigation is complete by accepting his resignation with prejudice Oct. 29, according to a follow-up letter from Yeast to King, who used annual leave through his final day Nov. 19.
Gil Lawson, spokesman for the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet, declined to discuss specifics of the allegations against King, citing cabinet policy against commenting on personnel matters.
King, approached at his Franklin County home, declined to comment on the circumstances of his resignation.
The tourism cabinet’s harassment prevention policy generally covers, among other things, abusive language; lewd or obscene comments; and vulgar or indecent gestures, language or jokes in the workplace.
How the cabinet initiated the investigation is unknown as well. The harassment prevention policy states that employees can bring complaints to a supervisor or agency official, or directly to the cabinet secretary if officials fail to follow reporting procedures. The cabinet can fire employees who violate the harassment prevention policy and discipline any agency official that fails to report complaints brought to his or her attention, according to the policy.
King isn’t the only Fish and Wildlife official to resign in recent months. Darin Moore, who oversaw personnel, payroll, budget and more as director of the Division of Administrative Services, resigned Sept. 16. Jonathan Gassett, the former commissioner of Fish and Wildlife, stepped down Sept. 20 and accepted a position with the Wildlife Management Institute.