In 2006, Ernie Fletcher was the Republican, scandal-plagued governor of Kentucky, fighting off charges that he concocted a “a scheme to illegally award state jobs to political supporters.” After a two-year probe by the state attorney general into his hiring practices, Flether was indicted by a “special state grand jury on three counts of criminal conspiracy, official misconduct and political discrimination.” Fletcher later signed an agreement with the attorney general conceding that there was “wrongdoing by his administration” in exchange for dropping all charges. But in August 2006, Rand Paul — now the GOP Senate candidate — penned an op-ed in the Kentucky Post offering a different solution. Paul said that if he were Fletcher, he’d simply pardon himself:
Now to give Fletcher a break, we have to acknowledge that having a bulldog attorney general who is a wannabe Democrat contender for the governorship has driven this nightmare. If you had a Republican attorney general, there would be no indictments and no case. Food for thought for Republicans: Apparently you can’t govern peacefully unless you win the governorship and the attorney general’s office.
Which gets me back to my daydream. What would I do if I were governor?
First, I’d have pardoned myself and everyone included nearly a year ago. Without a pardon the case goes on and on. Fletcher has gotten no kudos whatsoever for not pardoning himself.
Richard Beliles, chairman of the nonpartisan watchdog group Common Cause of Kentucky, said Wednesday that Paul’s pro-pardon stance would have been “good for an emperor, but it’s hardly good for a public servant. … If that’s what he really thinks, he doesn’t understand the concept of a public servant.”