House Speaker subpoenaed in case involving disputed House seat

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) - The attorney for the winner of a disputed House of Representatives seat subpoenaed House Speaker Pro Tem David Osborne for a deposition after the election loser filed for an Election Contest to be conducted by the House.


Democrat Jim Glenn defeated Republican incumbent DJ Johnson by one vote, 6,319-6,318, in numbers released by the State Board of Elections for the 13th District House seat in Daviess County.


Johnson requested a recanvass of the vote which was performed with no change in the totals.  The State Board of Elections certified the results Nov. 20, declaring Glenn the winner.


While most races in Kentucky can take the further step of a court-ordered recount, under the state Constitution, legislative races require an election contest by the chamber involved and Johnson has filed for one with the House clerk.


“My request to examine the results is not to contest the election, but to verify the results,” Johnson said earlier this week. “The margin of victory is historic in the Kentucky House of Representatives and I owe it to every citizen of the 13th District to make sure the results are accurate.”


Johnson said he is frustrated the matter cannot be resolved before the start of the 2019 regular session, but that is the law.  “I have, and will continue, to follow existing law until this matter is settled,” he said. “Regardless of the outcome of this process, I will be working to modernize election procedures for the Kentucky General Assembly.”


Glenn’s attorney, Anna Whites of Frankfort, submitted a list of some of the questions to Osborne in the subpoena.


They include:


--Whether Osborne has been having undisclosed meetings with lawyers for losing candidate DJ Johnson.


--Did Osborne had advance knowledge of the Election Contest?


--Whether taxpayer money been spent to pay lawyers working for the losing candidate.


--Can Osborne fairly judge a case brought by his own employees?

--Will Osborne try to deny a seat to the certified election winner State Representative Jim Glenn even before the House investigates the Election Contest?


Other questions on the list include whether people will be compelled to reveal who they voted for in the election, if Osborne has developed a plan for day one of the session when members are sworn in to office, and the opening of “facially invalid” absentee ballots. 


The subpoena also demands Osborne produce documents for the deposition, including all payment records for the two lawyers filing the election contest for losing candidate DJ Johnson. Whites suspects that public money may have been authorized by Osborne to fund work on Johnson's case. 


Whites said one of the lawyers who filed the Election Contest, Jeffrey Kaplan, is believed to have an office in the Capitol and is a regular salaried employee of Republican House Leadership. The other lawyer, Eric Lycan, states on his website that he is the lawyer for Republican House Leadership (including Osborne), as well as for the Republican Party of Kentucky.


"It is the height of arrogance to pay a losing candidate's lawyers with taxpayer money to overturn a public election. We hope the Speaker will promptly confirm that he has taken steps to prevent this from happening," said Pierce Whites, who is also counsel for Glenn. "Attorney-client privilege does not apply in state government because the public has a right to know what elected leaders are up to. We should get to the bottom of this pretty quickly."


The subpoena calls for Osborne to appear, along with the documents, at Whites’ office in Frankfort on Dec. 19 for the deposition.


Osborne has not replied to requests for comment on the subpoena.

 

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