On the eve of his scheduled appearance before a grand jury, Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher issued blanket pardons to members of his administration who have been charged — as well as those who could be indicted later — in a state hiring investigation. He insisted he would not pardon himself, reports the Lexington Herald-Leader. In a televised address, Fletcher said that he never “knowingly violated any laws” and is exercising the power to pardon to end “what appears to be a political investigation” that has diverted the attention of government. “I cannot allow state government to continue to be consumed by this game of political ‘gotcha,'” said Fletcher, a Republican.
The pardons prompted words of support from some Republicans who praised them as “admirable,” and strong rebukes from critics, some of whom called for Fletcher’s resignation. Attorney General Greg Stumbo said last night the investigation is far from over. He said his office will turn over evidence to the U.S. Attorney’s office. In addition, Stumbo hinted that the pardon could be challenged by testing its “broadness” for seeming to cover unnamed people who haven’t yet been charged.