Ethics commission fines former SOS Grimes for improper use of voter data
Published 9:26 am Wednesday, May 24, 2023
The state ethics commission for Kentucky’s executive branch has fined former Democratic Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes $10,000 for ethics violations over the improper use of voter data that the commission states gave a benefit to herself and others. The Kentucky Executive Branch Ethics Commission in its order Friday said the former chief election official “used her position and influence to improperly download and distribute voter lists without following the processes of government.”
“Her actions conferred a benefit and advantage on herself and others, circumvented the process of government and were in conflict with and in derogation of the public interest,” a press release from the commission stated. The ethics agency initiated the proceeding over the violations in 2021 after beginning to investigate Grimes for potential violations in 2017. Grimes served as Secretary of State from 2012 to January of 2020. In the order, the ethics agency detailed how Grimes used her position to direct subordinates to store data from the state’s voter registration system onto flash drives for a “personal, private purpose” in violation of the law and also directed subordinates to download and distribute customized voter lists free of charge.
The commission also refuted arguments from Grimes that the statute of limitations had expired for the ethics commission to take action and that the commission did not prove that Grimes “knowingly” violated the law when she believed she was acting legally. “As Secretary of State, Respondent would know the requirements of the law she administered. It would be disingenuous and incredible to suggest that she did not,” the order stated. “Respondent had to know she was providing information to which the recipients were not entitled.” In a statement, an attorney representing Grimes said she would appeal the commission’s order.
“After investigating former Secretary Grimes for half a decade, the Executive Branch Ethics Commission chose not to hold a hearing in this matter or present its own evidence,” said Jon Salomon, Grimes’ attorney. “Secretary Grimes believes that the Commission was required to dismiss its complaint in full – and will be seeking review of the Commission’s decision by the Franklin Circuit Court.