Ethics commission investigating Lt. gov. candidate

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) - A Democratic candidate for Lt. governor faces an investigation for allegedly violating the Executive Branch Ethics Code.


The Executive Branch Ethics Commission approved an Initiating Order for an administrative procedure and formal complaint on Tuesday against Joshua French, the running mate of Democrat Geoff Young, to determine if he violated the state law requiring candidates for constitutional office to file a financial disclosure statement by Feb. 15 of the year they file for office.


According to the Initiating Order, the Commission notified French on March 29 of a preliminary investigation by letter on March 29, 2019.  An investigation determined there was probable cause that a violation had occurred, prompting the proceeding.


Once the order is served upon French, he has 20 days to file a response.  If he fails to do so, the Commission may accept that as an admission of guilt and enter a final order against him.


The Young-French ticket is widely considered to be a longshot for the Democratic nomination for Governor, which also includes candidates Rocky Adkins, Andy Beshear and Adam Edelen.


When asked in general if the outcome of a race could result in dropping charges, Executive Branch Ethics Commission Executive Director Kathryn Gabbert said, “Whether or not the candidates win or lose the primary or general election has no bearing on their culpability for violating the law.  The Commission will continue to pursue compliance.”


For those found guilty of violating the statue, Gabbert says there are a variety of penalties.


“The Commission can issue orders requiring the violator to file the report, a written public reprimand, and a civil penalty of up to $5,000.  If the candidate is ultimately successful and takes office, the Commission can instruct that the official’s salary be withheld until compliance.”


French has not responded to a request for comment on the Commission action.

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