By Samantha Swindler / Managing Editor
Two Republicans assigned to the 27th Judicial District Nominating Commission (serving Laurel and Knox counties) were both — until two weeks before their appointments — former Democrats, one of whom donated to Gov. Steve Beshear’s primary campaign.
Judicial nominating commissions are chaired by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and consist of two representatives of the Kentucky Bar Association and four lay members of the local counties represented — two from each major political party. When a judicial vacancy occurs, the local nominating commission chooses three nominees to submit to the governor, who has 60 days to appoint a replacement.
Ruthie Hoskins and Everett Morgan were both appointed by Gov. Steve Beshear on Jan. 4 to serve on the 27th Judicial Nominating Commission as lay members representing the Republican party.
Both will serve for terms expiring Jan. 1, 2012.
Ruthie Hoskins of London was registered as a Republican on her first Laurel County filing in 1973.
But in December 2007, Hoskins made two changes to her party affiliation. On Dec. 6, she changed from Republican to Democrat, then changed back from Democrat to Republican on Dec. 20.
Though she spent a brief time as a registered Democrat, the Hoskins have contributed financial to campaigns of solely Democratic candidates.
According to the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance (KREF) Web site, Ruthie Hoskins contributed a total of $3,200 to four different Democrat’s campaigns. In 2000, she gave $1,000 to Lawrence Kuhl’s campaign for State Senator; in 2003, she gave $1,000 to A. Chandler’s campaign for the governor’s race; and in 2004, she gave $200 to Democrat J. Ridley’s race for a state senate seat 4th District in Western Kentucky. She also gave $1,000 to Steve Beshear’s primary campaign in April 2007.
Her husband, James Hoskins, has given to five campaigns, those of Kuhl, Chandler, Greg Stumbo, Beshear and Scott Alexander — all of them Democrats. Alexander was running in a special election in western Kentucky for the seat vacated by now Lt. Governor Daniel Mongiardo.
According to the state Web site for the Kentucky Democratic Party, James Hoskins of Laurel County is also a 2008 County Caucus delegate for Hilary Clinton.
According to a press release announcing the appointments, Ruthie Hoskins is a bookkeeper and payroll clerk for Pine Top Auto-Trucking. She replaced Ann Hollin Smith on the commission, whose term had expired.
When contacted by the Times-Tribune, Ms. Hoskins said she had “no idea” how she was nominated to serve on the commission. When asked about her changes in party affiliation, she said, “I have no comment,” and hung up the phone.
Laurel County Democratic Chair Roy Sizemore said Ruthie Hoskins has attended Democratic fish fry fundraisers, but had always thought she was a registered Republican.
“Those appointments are the same as any other appointments that they make,” Sizemore said. “They (the governor’s office) appoint whoever they want. We did not make any recommendations.”
A spokesperson for the governor’s office said members of the nominating commission are either self-nominated or nominated by citizens to serve on the commission. She said she had no records as to who had nominated Hoskins and Morgan to the board.
According to a press release from the governor’s office, Everett Morgan, 65, is a retired teacher from Leslie County who lives in London with his wife, Lolita. Morgan replaced Brenda R. Corey, whose term had expired.
Morgan has been listed as a Democrat since his earliest filing in Laurel County in October 1999. On Dec. 21, 2007 he switched his party affiliation to Republican, and 14 days later he was appointed by the governor as a Republican representative.
Neither Everett nor his wife Lolita have any political donations listed with KREF. However, Everett’s brother, attorney McKinley Morgan, has given to Chandler and Scott Alexander’s campaigns.
When asked about how he was nominated to serve on the commission, Everett Morgan said, “I don’t have anything to say on that,” and hung up the phone.
Bryan Mills, chair of the Laurel County Republican Party, said he was unaware of Hoskin and Morgan’s party affiliations prior to their appointments, but added, “It doesn’t surprise me... This has just been the typical behavior of Democrat governors for 50 years.”
Mills perceived the appointments as an attempt to “stack” the commission at the last moment.
The other two members of the nominating committee, representing the Democratic Party, were appointed by former Republican governor Ernie Fletcher on Dec. 10, 2007. Sabrina Mills has been registered as a Democrat since her first Knox County filing in October 1991. She had no campaign contributions listed on the KREF Web site.
Paul Dole of Knox County has been listed as Democrat since 1983. Over the years, he has made a total of $1,050 to state political campaigns to both Democrats and Republicans.
The 27th Judicial Nominating Commission has met only once this year — to consider nominees for the Laurel/Knox district judgeship vacated by Michael Capterton. The commission nominated Gilbert Holland, Randy Azbill and John Chappell (all of whom were seeking the judgeship at that time), and the governor ultimately chose Chappell to fill the seat.
By Samantha Swindler / Managing Editor
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