GRANT COUNTY, KY (FOX19) - Grant County's second-in-charge has packed up his office and is headed to Frankfort. Scott Kimmich, who's served as the deputy judge-executive since January 2015 is now working for the incoming Speaker of the Kentucky House of Representatives.
Rep. Jeff Hoover confirmed the hire in an e-mailed response to a FOX19 NOW records request. The e-mail came from an attorney in the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission. The e-mailed documents show Kimmich was hired Dec. 1, 2016.
Those records show Kimmich, a "Returning Retiree" will earn $65,000 a year. Meaning, Kimmich will collect a state retirement check along with the $31.14 an hour salary he'll draw as a "scheduler" in Hoover's office.
"Little did I know that a year later Matt Bevin would be elected governor of Kentucky and one year later Republican would take control of the House and Jeff Hoover would become our next speaker," Kimmich said.
Kimmich alluded to some of the controversies that surrounded his time in office: the secretly-recorded budget meeting between Kimmich, Grant County Judge Executive Steve Wood and the two men who run the Grant County Detention Center. In that video, Kimmich was accused of discussing political vendettas against county workers who did not support Wood's campaign.
"It's no secret when I first came here I had a little distrust for a few people, one who is sitting on the front row (Pat Conrad) tonight, who will succeed me as the deputy judge. Pat, thank you for everything. You have been a great leader for this county and I know you will do well," Kimmich said.
"I want to apologize personally to those I may have offended when I first came here. And, I want to say to them publicly tonight that I leave this county feeling that each of you are serving with honor and dignity and this county can be proud of the leaders they have in place."
In the Dec. 5 resignation video, Kimmich also appeared to take shots at the man who recorded that Feb. 14, 2015 meeting: Jason Hankins, the second-in-charge at the county detention center, ""Some folks have not disappointed me through their words and deeds (inaudible) but that's not for me to judge or others to judge, they'll be judged on a day by someone far greater than any of us," Kimmich said.
WATCH KIMMICH'S RESIGNATION IN FULL:
Kimmich took another shot at Hankins when in his resignation address. Kimmich was telling the audience about a new relationship he'd formed with county prosecutor, Jim Crawford, when he turned to Hankins and said, "And, this detention center Jason, (inaudible). Whatever you do, don't let him (Crawford) down. And, if you do, I hope he (Crawford) puts you in the jail." Laughter from Steve Wood and some in audience members could be heard in the video.
Hoover's office did not provide FOX19 NOW any records detailing Kimmich's job description as "scheduler," but Kimmich explained in his resignation, "I've accepted the opportunity to serve as the scheduler for the Speaker of the House, as he put it to me: 'To keep the train running on time.'"
Kimmich, despite the controversies, said in the meeting, "I leave with my head held high and filled with the spirit of accomplishment and achievement…I believe our record has been one of accomplishment and I take pride in what we've done."
"IF I REPLACE CONNIE, IT'LL BE A BLONDE, 24, BIG TITS"
In August, Scott Kimmich, Steve Wood and the Grant County Fiscal Court paid a $150,000 settlement to the estate of Connie McClure to settle an age discrimination lawsuit. McClure was 56 years old and had served the county's judge executive's office for 25 years when she was terminated in July 2015.
The Hankins run the Grant County Detention Center.
After McClure was terminated on June 30, 2015, she said she found out that the Hankins still had a copy of the video. McClure's attorney sent the jail an open records request and the Hankins had to produce a copy of the recording.
"I told her, if I replace Connie, it's going to be a blond, 24, big t---s," Wood said on the recording. Wood then goes on to tell a sexist joke to the Hankins brothers as the meeting moved into a discussion over how to drug test jail employees.
The county held a party for McClure on June 30, 2015, the last day of the county's fiscal year. McClure contends she was fired and forced into retirement, nine years before she was eligible to draw full retirement. Days following McClure's termination, the county hired her replacement, a woman 30 years younger than McClure. The replacement's age was detailed in McClure's settlement demand letter to the county.
"I was fired because of my age and my looks," McClure told FOX19 NOW in a December 2015 interview. "I believe that whole joke came true," McClure said, referring to Wood's claims that he was making a "joke" about the replacement.
"Those are your words," Barr said to Wood during that interview, "and for Connie McClure to be replaced days after she left here with a much younger woman, how does this not stack up to age discrimination?" "Do you want to meet the girl I hired," Wood asked, "She's not blonde," Wood said.
Wood acknowledged the new employee was "significantly" younger than McClure, "Well, yeah she is. She's younger," Wood agreed.
In the settlement agreement, Wood and Kimmich agreed to settle the lawsuit, but did not admit to any of McClure's allegations. "Releasees (Wood and Kimmich) have denied any fault or wrongdoing with regard to the claims asserted but the Decedent (McClure)," the settlement filing states.
KENTUCKY STATE POLICE INVESTIGATION
In March, Grant County Detention Center officer, Howard Chipman walked into the grand jury room of the county courthouse and handed over evidence—he claimed—showed Kimmich and his staff were not truthful when it comes to their time sheets and taking more time off than they admitted to taking on their time sheets.
"When things didn't add up, I decided it was time to see the grand jury," Chipman told FOX19 NOW in August.
The grand jury handed the case over to the Kentucky State Police that day and the agency started investigating the claims. KSP confirmed to FOX19 NOW there was an active investigation into the claims and that the case was moved out of the Grant County KSP post and into KSP's Special Enforcement Troop, a special crimes unit that deals with white collar crime.
On March 16, we submitted open record requests to the Grant County Fiscal Court, asking for some of the same payroll records Chipman sought in his investigation. On April 22, the county made some of those records available for us to inspect.
We analyzed the weekly time card records provided by the county, then compared those records to the timesheet. The timesheet is the record that tallies the regular pay, sick, vacation and holiday pay for each county employee.
In the fiscal court, every employee time card is sent to Angela Lawrence, the fiscal court's secretary. Lawrence then tallies the hours worked and enters that onto a timesheet, according to county fiscal manager Peggy Updike.
After Lawrence finishes the timesheet, it's then sent to the county's privately contracted payroll company for paycheck processing, Updike confirmed for FOX19 NOW.
Our analysis of the county record shows similar discrepancies to those Chipman laid out for the grand jury. For example:
Deputy Judge Executive Scott Kimmich's timesheets from Jan. 1, 2015 through March 20, 2016 show he never took any leave, despite his weekly time cards showing he took 18 vacation days, 13 sick days and 2 bereavement days.
None of those days show up on Kimmich's timesheets.
Pat Conrad, the judge executive's executive assistant, payroll records show only one instance of leave noted on her timesheet: a Jan. 8, 2016 vacation. The amount of vacation taken cannot be read because the county redacted that information from the records.
Conrad's weekly time cards show 19 leave instances between Jan. 1, 2015 and March 2016, but only the Jan. 8, 2016 vacation is showing on her timesheet.
During our investigation, we obtained multiple county emails from Conrad's government email address. Those emails show out of office replies, showing she was not in the office August 25 and 25, 2015, Oct. 15, 2015 and Jan. 22 through Feb. 1, 2016. Conrad's timesheets show regular pay for those dates.
Those Conrad timesheets on those dates show a note written in the "Misc Info" box, but the county blacked that information out before providing those records to us.
County financial clerk, Peggy Updike's payroll records do show vacations listed on her timesheets, but the amount of vacation taken was blacked out by the county. The Updike records provided to us by the county also showed leave taken on time cards that was not deducted on the timesheets Angela Lawrence submitted to the payroll contractor.
On June 21, we sent Updike, Conrad and Lawrence a message requesting an interview. None of the three ever responded to our request to interview them about the allegations.
We tried to interview Judge Executive Steve Wood and his second-in-charge, Deputy Judge Executive Scott Kimmich for this report. We submitted an e-mail request to the two men.
Wood's attorney responded in June, declining an interview. Kimmich never responded.
"We are confident that at the conclusion of any investigation regarding Mr. Wood's administration it will be clear that such investigation was a waste of time for the Commonwealth and without any foundation," Wood's attorney, Stephen Bates wrote in a June 20 e-mail in response to our interview request.
We met Wood outside the old courthouse building June 20 as he walked into a fiscal court meeting.
Wood wasn't completely silent on the matter.
"Absolutely no wrongdoing done – none. And, when I call you, you better put it on TV because there was nothing done wrong. I promise you that," Wood said as he walked into the county building.
We filed an open records request with KSP for the investigative file into this case, but as of this report, KSP has not acknowledged receipt of that record. KSP will only accept public record requests by fax, U.S. mail or hand delivered to their Frankfort offices.
On Dec. 15 we faxed a request to KSP, seeking that file. KSP has not yet responded.
We also placed two separate calls to KSP Post 6 spokesman, Trooper David Jones' state-issued cell phone on Dec. 15 and Dec. 16, asking for an update on the grand jury investigation, but Jones did not return those messages until 4 p.m. Dec. 16. Jones did not have a status on the investigation and suggested we call KSP's Drugs and Special Enforcement Branch.
That KSP division was closed for the day when we called them Dec. 16. The woman who answered the phone told FOX19 NOW there is a public relations staffer in that division, but that person was gone for the day and does not accept media calls outside of business hours. The KSP staffer suggested we call back Monday after 9 a.m. for an update on the investigation.
Rep. Hoover issued a statement to FOX19 NOW regarding Kimmich's hire and the controversies Kimmich alluded to in his resignation. Hoover, through a staffer, issued this statement:""It is my understanding the allegations made against Mr. Kimmich in Grant County were shown to have no merit, therefore, no further actions were taken. I hired him based on his proven track record of being a valued employee."
Kimmich's hire date was Dec. 1.