Fletcher appoints indicted aide: "Posted on Thu, Nov. 24, 2005
Fletcher appoints indicted aide
Acting transportation secretary given permanent post
By John Cheves
HERALD-LEADER STAFF WRITER
Gov. Ernie Fletcher yesterday named the twice-indicted Bill Nighbert his secretary of transportation.
Nighbert, who has been acting secretary since March, is charged with retaliating against a female employee in the Transportation Cabinet who reported state hiring violations. The employee, Missy McCray, said this summer that Nighbert stopped a bonus for her and told her that, if he were younger, he would have punched her in the mouth.
The charge of violating the state's Whistleblower Act, pending in Franklin District Court, could bring one year in jail. The grand jury indicted him Sept. 20, weeks after Fletcher pardoned Nighbert and eight other aides who were charged for their roles in an alleged hiring scheme intended to pack the state payroll with politically connected Republicans.
The Transportation Cabinet has been the chief source of complaints about hiring that led to an investigation by Attorney General Greg Stumbo. While defending his administration overall, Fletcher in September fired nine aides for 'mistakes,' including several high-ranking transportation managers. Fletcher has not said whether he will issue a second pardon for Nighbert's latest indictment.
Yesterday, in a prepared statement, Fletcher praised Nighbert for sharing his vision for Kentucky.
'Bill Nighbert has shown exemplary leadership and management skills,' Fletcher said. 'His accomplishments in the time he has been acting secretary have served as assets to the commonwealth.'
In an interview, Nighbert denied the allegations in both indictments, calling Stumbo 'ethically ba"