Kentucky Rep. Keith Hall faces corruption charges before state ethics commission

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August 17, 2011

Kentucky

By David Godow

'Tis the season in Kentucky... for state government ethics complaints! As a summer of dueling ethics complaints among statewide executive office candidates draws to a close, it seems that trouble has now spread to the legislature.

State Rep. Keith Hall (D-Phelps) will defend himself before the Legislative Ethics Commission on a date to be determined against charges he used his seat on the House Appropriations Committee to steer a $171,000 contract to a company he owns.[1] Hall is the fourth Kentucky politician to face ethics trouble this year after gubernatorial candidates Steve Beshear and David Williams, and Secretary of State Elaine Walker.

Hall, a five-term legislator who won re-election with almost 80% of the vote in 2010, is accused of getting Pike County's Mountain Water District (MWD) to hire a company he owns, BMM, Inc., for a $171,000 no-bid electrical work contract in 2004. According to State Auditor Crit Luallen's office, Hall helped obtain funding for the project from the Kentucky government. Meanwhile, MWD directed the company to submit invoices totaling less than $20,000, the threshold past which state contract work must be submitted to a competitive bid.[2]

This isn't the first time Hall has found himself under scrutiny because of the Mountain Water District. In 2009, he earned media attention for allegedly inserting a provision into a budget bill that loosened the residency requirements for serving on the MWD's executive commission. That move just so happened to benefit two commissioners with whom Hall's family has business ties.[3][4]

It's uncertain whether and to what extent the latest investigation into Hall's MWD dealings will damage his already tattered reputation. After a brief preliminary hearing on Tuesday, Hall's lawyer announced a formal hearing would be held at an indeterminate time in the future.

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