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Court clears Grimes of ethics charges

On Behalf of | May 8, 2024 | Firm News |

Alison Lundergan Grimes, who served as Kentucky’s Secretary of State from 2011-19, was declared not guilty by Judge Phillip Shepherd of the Franklin Circuit Court. The judge noted that the state’s Executive Branch Ethics Commission’s final order did not dispute that Grimes would have lawful access to the voter data and missed several other key issues.

The allegations

The state’s ethics watchdog had accused Grimes of downloading voter lists onto a flash drive for a private purpose without paying the mandatory fees or submitting sworn forms required by law. The commission had investigated Grimes for several years, announcing in November 2021 that Grimes must pay $10,000 in fines for two ethical violations pertaining to her handling of that voter data.

The defense

Grimes argued that the voter information she accessed was already publicly available, and as the Secretary of State, she had the complete legal right to use and distribute it. She maintained that her actions did not break any laws or rules.

Her lawyer, firm partner J. Guthrie True, described the ruling as a “full exoneration for Grimes.” Another member of her legal team, Jon Salomon, emphasized that the court found no serious breaches of ethics laws, suggesting that the charges were unfounded and that Grimes was merely performing her duties.

The judge’s verdict

Judge Shepherd’s 33-page order sided with Grimes, noting that the statute of limitations had expired on the commission’s charges and that there was no evidence to support the allegations of ethical violations. The judge found that the commission did not provide a clear argument or evidence for its claims, casting doubt on the validity of the accusations. The judge also criticized the Ethics Commission for not holding a proper hearing to examine the evidence more thoroughly.

Grimes responds to the ruling

Grimes hailed the judgment as a win for her team and their work. A Democrat and Lexington attorney, Grimes was an unsuccessful candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2014 against Republican Mitch McConnell. She is the daughter of former state Democratic Party Chair Jerry Lundergan.