Thursday, June 26, 2008

BREAKING: Four Knott County Officials Found Guilty

From the Herald-Leader:

A jury in U.S. District Court in Pikeville on Thursday convicted Knott County Judge-Executive Randy Thompson in an alleged vote-buying conspiracy, according to an attorney involved in the case. Thompson was charged with trying to buy votes by misusing taxpayers' money to improve privately-owned driveways and build private bridges. Jurors also convicted John Mac Combs and Phillip Champion, who are deputy judge-executives, and former Magistrate Ronnie Adams. All were accused of taking part in the vote-buying conspiracy in 2006.

Thompson, a Republican in the heavily Democratic county, was appointed judge-executive in 2006 after the prior officeholder, Donnie Newsome, went to federal prison for buying votes. The judge-executive is the top administrator in most Kentucky counties. Pikeville attorney Larry Webster, who represented Combs, said the jury convicted Thompson, Combs and Adams of conspiracy and misapplication of funds, but split its verdict on some other counts.

Jurors convicted Champion of misapplication of funds, but found him not guilty on the conspiracy charge. And the panel convicted Adams on one count of vote-buying but acquitted him on another, Webster said. Webster said the convictions will be appealed on several issues. Defense attorneys felt the evidence was insufficient, and that jurors shouldn't have been allowed to consider some evidence, among other things.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

As promised, here is my take on the matter: I am strongly against vote-buying. Vote buying and selling is not just against the law, but is a sin. However, I strongly support those who want to help others. Elderly and disabled people needed--and still need--good roads. You also have to look at the improvements in Knott County--water and sewer projects, the Sportsplex, and adventure tourism. The media coverage and the strong emotions around this case have caused Knott County to be looked upon negatively. This negativity could linger for years. I have connections to Knott County--my mom's family is from there. I graduated from Alice Lloyd College in Knott County. PRAY for the people and leaders of Knott County.

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