Court hires Louisville attorney to investigate charges against Miller

(Filed July 2, 2013) Benton- On a split vote the Marshall County Court voted to hire Louisville Attorney Kent Wicker to investigate whether there was any wrong doing by Marshall County Judge Executive Mike Miller with regard to the unemployment filing of long time Marshall County Dog Warden Goldenrod Kirk and Miller’s release of information to about Commissioner Misti Drew filing a complaint against Kirk’s unemployment filing with the Cabinet for Unemployment Insurance.

Drew has since filed and ethics complaint against Miller for releasing information about her having filed the unemployment complaint.

Drew and Commissioner Terry Anderson voted to hire Wicker to conduct the investigation, while Commissioner Bob Gold voted no and Judge Miller recused himself from the vote. So the motion passed 2-1.

Earlier in the meeting Gold said he supported moving forward with the investigation but questioned why they did not use an alternate choice of council, an attorney he said would charge half the rate of Wicker’s firm. Gold said allegations from Drew’s complaint had been filed with at least two different state government offices.

Five different people in the crowd that packed the upstairs courtroom asked questions about the decision to hire an attorney. The first to speak Judi Hill asked if Wicker owning property in Marshall County constituted a conflict since he did pay taxes in Marshall County. County Attorney Jeff Edwards said he did not believe it did constitute a conflict of interest.

Earlier in the meeting Drew asked if there wasn’t a conflict in him and those in his office to continue to advise the court. Edwards said he had talked with Wicker about the potential for a conflict of interest and they agreed to monitor that situation, but agreed that a conflict did not exist currently.

According to Marshall County Attorney Jeff Edwards Wicker’s rate is $300 per hour. However he said he expected Wicker to complete his investigation in a short period of time perhaps in as short a period as one day. He noted that Wicker had a very business like approach and that he was a former Assistant U.S. Attorney General.

Jerry Sikes who was a member of the audience questioned the cost and how long the investigation may take. He also asked for copies of the specific charges against Miller. Drew said they could not be released until they had been filed with the ethics commission.

Kent Davis in the audience spoke against the cost of the investigation as well saying that it could take six months or a year and cost a $100,000 and he didn’t want to pay it. His complaint was countered by Kelly Drew, Misti Drew's husband who said he was a Democrat but supported the investigation.(Note: In a earlier version of this story Mr. Drew was referred to as an unidentified man.)

Commissioner Drew was criticized by some in the audience for filing the complaint and pushing for the investigation but she defended her decision by saying if they wanted to vote to sweep it under the rug they could.

Several members of the audience spoke at once to respond to what Drew said. Miller had to use his gavel to restore order in the meeting. When he called for addition comments R. J. Pretowski asked to speak. He said he was a citizen of Marshall County and he wanted to respond to Davis’ complaint about the cost of the investigation. He said the cost of the investigation was the part of good government. He said if they lead to more charges so be it and that he supported the investigation whole heartedly.

The court voted to approved the motion and adjourned.