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Bevin: No role in dismissal of lieutenant governor’s aide


FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin said Monday that he doesn’t know anything about the circumstances leading to the dismissal of a key aide to his lieutenant governor — a shake-up that prompted Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton to send out a tweet asking for prayers in her fight against “dark forces.”

Bevin told reporters he was surprised by Hampton’s recent tweet, and the Republican governor indicated he had no involvement in the dismissal of Hampton’s deputy chief of staff.

“We have 30-some-thousand people who work for state government, and people are hired and people are let go on a regular basis,” the governor said. “I don’t have any knowledge of the situation involving this individual.”

Bevin dropped Hampton from his ticket as he launched his reelection campaign. Hampton has said little publicly about her removal from the ticket. But the dismissal of her top deputy intensified her feud with Bevin’s administration over staffing shake-ups in her office.

In her tweet last week, Hampton said she didn’t know who initiated the “unauthorized personnel action ending (the) employment” of her deputy chief of staff, Adrienne Southworth.

Hampton praised Southworth for her “stellar” work and said the ouster went against her wishes. Hampton’s tweet ended with a request that people “pray for me as I battle dark forces.” She didn’t elaborate in the social media post.

Meanwhile, Hampton sent a sharply worded letter to a top official in the state Finance and Administration Cabinet directing officials to reinstate Southworth.

“I did not advise or authorize you to terminate employment of Ms. Southworth,” Hampton wrote. “I was not consulted in this action, and I fail to understand how my staff can be terminated without discussing matters with me, their immediate supervisor.”

“In the future,” she added, “you are not to execute any personnel action involving my staff unless you have my express, written permission.”

Bevin said Monday that he has spoken with Hampton about the matter.

“I heard about it first from her,” the governor told reporters. “And again, I don’t have any more information than she has.”

Bevin was not asked about Hampton’s letter asking that the staff assistant be reinstated.

Asked who made the decision to dismiss Hampton’s aide, Bevin replied: “These things are always done through Personnel. There’s a method, people aren’t let go indiscriminately. There’s always reasons, but as you would expect, and as is policy, we don’t ever talk about specific personnel issues.”

Southworth’s dismissal marked the second time this year that Hampton has feuded with Bevin’s administration over the removal of one of her key assistants.

On Friday, when a Hampton aide was asked how many staff members are working in the lieutenant governor’s office, the aide replied: “Right now, it’s me.”

Hampton has had a small role in Bevin’s administration, traveling the state to meet with school groups while promoting entrepreneurship and science, technology, engineering and mathematics education for girls.

Bevin dropped Hampton from his ticket in January as he launched his reelection campaign. Bevin chose state Sen. Ralph Alvarado as his running mate this year.

Hampton, who has strong support among tea party activists in Kentucky, had lobbied Bevin to retain her as his running mate. The Republican governor is being challenged by Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear in this year’s November election.

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