Bevin appointee declines spot on pension board after attorney general opinion

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Dr. William F. Smith, the man named by Gov. Matt Bevin to chair the Kentucky Retirement Systems board, said Tuesday that he has decided to decline the appointment after an opinion from the attorney general was released saying Bevin did not have the authority to take such an action.

Smith was appointed to the board in April when Bevin issued an executive order removing KRS Board Chair Tommy Elliott, citing the need for a fresh start for the system.

Elliott, a senior vice president at Old National Bank in Louisville who had been reappointed to another four-year term as chairman of the KRS board of trustees just last year by former Gov. Steve Beshear, ignored Bevin’s executive order and showed up to the pension system’s board meeting later that same week.

In an opinion released Tuesday, Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear’s office said Bevin did not have the authority to remove Elliott from his position.

The opinion, which was requested by KRS Executive Director Bill Thielen, stated Bevin is not entitled to remove a prior governor’s KRS appointee in the middle of a term. Assistant Attorney General Matt James also wrote in the opinion that Smith, a dermatologist from Madisonville, does not qualify as an investment or financial professional as the law requires of that post.

In response, Smith resigned the position given to him by Bevin in a letter Tuesday evening.

“I remain steadfastly committed to pension reform, and will continue to seek a resolution to the serious issues confronting Kentucky arising from the Commonwealth’s unfunded pension,” Smith said. “As a result of this commitment, if I can serve the Commonwealth in the future in a similar or related capacity, I stand willing to do so.”

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Jacqueline Pitts
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