Gov. Matt Bevin took executive action Wednesday to remove the chairman of the woefully underfunded Kentucky Retirement System’s (KRS) board of trustees citing the need for a fresh start for the system.
Bevin issued the executive order Wednesday removing Thomas K. Elliott, a senior vice president at Old National Bank in Louisville who was reappointed to another four-year term as chairman of the KRS board of trustees just last year by former Gov. Steve Beshear.
Bevin took this action citing a state law that suggests a governor can revoke any gubernatorial appointment for any reason at any time, exempting university boards, the Council on Postsecondary Education and the state Board of Education, according to the Lexington-Herald Leader.
Bevin spokeswoman Jessica Ditto told the Herald-Leader that there is precedent for such action from Kentucky’s Supreme Court as well as an opinion from a former Democratic attorney general and stated that the same practice had been used by former Gov. Beshear multiple times.
Media outlets have been unable to get a comment from Elliott on the matter.
But according to the Associated Press, Kentucky Retirement Systems Executive Director Bill Thielen said Elliott will attend Thursday’s KRS board meeting and the board will “conduct business as usual,” adding he does not feel Bevin has the authority to remove Elliott from his post.
The AP story quoted Bevin spokeswoman Ditto as noting the opposition of KRS, under the leadership of Thielen and Elliott, to a bill during the 2016 session to bring more oversight to the state’s retirement systems by making changes to board structures including gubernatorial appointments and by requiring the systems to follow KRS Chapter 45A, the model procurement code, as well as requiring disclosure of investment fees, contracts and more. That legislation, Senate Bill 2, was strongly supported by the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.
“KRS needs a fresh start and more transparency,” Ditto said.
The Kentucky Government Retirees, a group of former state workers closely monitoring the state’s pension crisis, issued a statement via Facebook Wednesday stating they are concerned about the action by Bevin and believe “operate independently of any administration.”