Tuesday, October 08, 2002

Patton says he's eager to be subpoenaed

Governor hopes to prove he didn't harm business of former mistress

The Associated Press

        FRANKFORT - Gov. Paul Patton said Monday he has not been subpoenaed by criminal investigators but is eager to prove he did nothing to harm the business of a woman who is suing him for sexual harassment.

        The FBI, two U.S. attorneys and Kentucky Attorney General Ben Chandler are jointly investigating an allegation by Tina Boyd Conner that Mr. Patton retaliated against her nursing home after she ended their two-year affair.

        The nursing home, Birchtree Healthcare in Clinton, filed for bankruptcy after losing its state certification and being dropped by Medicare and Medicaid. Mr. Patton has acknowledged the affair but denied doing anything illegal.

        Asked about federal subpoenas Monday, Mr. Patton said: “We would hope they would come as quickly as possible.”

        “So far, we have no indication anyone has tried in any way to hurt her business,” Mr. Patton said at an impromptu news conference in the Capitol.

        Ms. Conner claims Birchtree at first got assistance from the administration.

        Her attorney has said Ms. Conner gave state and federal investigators the name of someone in Mr. Patton's office who tipped her that state inspectors were on their way to Birchtree.

        Mr. Patton's general counsel, Denis Fleming, last week said he questioned employees in Mr. Patton's office and turned up no evidence of a tipster. Mr. Patton said Monday he has not been told which employees Mr. Fleming questioned.

        The only subpoenas known to have been issued to date were from the Executive Branch Ethics Commission, which is conducting its own inquiry into whether Mr. Patton misused his office.

        The commission has no criminal jurisdiction. Its oversight is limited to enforcement of a state ethics law that was intended to prevent conflicts of interest generally.

        Among other things, the commission's subpoena asked for results of “any internal investigation” conducted by the governor's office, including names of people interviewed and their responses to questions.


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