Related topics

Ky. Governor Facing Investigation

September 27, 2002

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) _ The state attorney general said Thursday he would investigate allegations that Gov. Paul Patton used state regulators to punish a woman after she ended their affair.

Federal authorities also are looking into the matter, an attorney for Patton’s accuser said Thursday. The U.S. attorney’s offices in Louisville and Lexington and the FBI declined to comment.

Patton acknowledged in a tearful, televised confession last week that he had an ``inappropriate relationship″ with Tina Conner, but denied using his office to hurt her.

``The governor is confident that he did nothing wrong in his capacity as governor,″ Patton spokesman Rusty Cheuvront said.

Conner, 40, says Patton used his office to perform favors for her during their two-year relationship, which ended in 1999. She said Patton continued to call her until she broke off contact in October 2001. Two months later, she said, state regulators cracked down on her nursing home in Clinton.

Conner accused the 65-year-old Democrat of sexual harassment in a lawsuit filed Sept. 18.

According to her lawsuit, Conner said Patton had provided assistance to her nursing home, Birchtree Healthcare, and to a construction company she owned. Conner also was appointed to the Institute on Aging and the board of the Kentucky Lottery Corp.

After the relationship ended, the nursing home was cited for dozens of violations, fined $16,500 and has lost its Medicare and Medicaid funding. Birchtree has filed for bankruptcy protection.

Health services officials said their work investigating Birchtree was free of political influence, and said they have invited federal and state officials to investigate the agency.

Attorney General Ben Chandler said his office would investigate if any laws were violated. Chandler, also a Democrat, is campaigning to succeed Patton, who is prevented by term limits from seeking a third term next year.

A state ethics commission was to meet Friday to decide whether to begin an investigation.

Conner’s attorney, Fred Radolovich, said Thursday he had met with an FBI agent and, separately, with U.S. Attorney Steve Pence and two prosecutors. He said the prosecutors did not ask him for the proof he said he has of Conner’s claims.

``They wanted a friendly conversation and that’s what we did for an hour,″ Radolovich said.

One of Patton’s attorneys, Sheryl Snyder, said he had no firsthand knowledge of an FBI investigation.

Update hourly