Posted on Thu, May. 11, 2006 UPDATED Grand jury indicts Gov. Ernie Fletcher By Ryan Alessi HERALD-LEADER STAFF WRITER FRANKFORT KENTUCKY - The special grand jury thatâs been investigating state government hiring practices today indicted Gov. Ernie Fletcher on three misdemeanor charges of conspiracy, official misconduct and political discrimination. The jury also indicted former transportation Cabinet official Sam Beverage with perjury, which is a felony. And the jury also submitted to Franklin Circuit Judge William Graham 14 more indictments that are under seal. Those indictments cover crimes that may have occurred before Aug. 29, 2005 when Fletcher pardoned all administration officials except himself. On the charge of conspiracy, the indictment states Fletcher âordered, directed and otherwise approved the development and implementationâ of what became known as the governorâs personnel initiative. That initiative, which included participation from cabinet aides across the administration, tracked the political backgrounds of new hires. In the second indictment for official misconduct, Fletcher is accused along with other âco-conspiratorsâ of ordering or approving âthe appointment, promotion, demotion, transfer or dismissalâ of rank-and-file state workers who are supposed to be judged on their qualifications, not political affiliations. The third count charges Fletcher with violating the prohibition against political discrimination because he âwillfully ordered, directed or approvedâ the firing of Michael Duncan, an investigator in the Transportation Cabinetâs Office of Inspector General. Duncan, who had contributed to Fletcherâs 2003 Democratic opponent, was fired May 13, 2005. That was the same day another Transportation Cabinet whistleblower dropped off boxes of files to Attorney General Greg Stumbo, launching the investigation into the Fletcher administrationâs personnel procedures. Fletcher ultimately pardoned the 13 current or former administration officials or associates who were indicted by the grand jury. The charges were mostly misdemeanors. Although he has acknowledged that mistakes were made, Fletcher has denied any wrongdoing. The Republican governor has accused Stumbo, a Democrat, of conducting a politically driven investigation.