Rowan County officials have referred misconduct charges against Clerk Kim Davis to the Kentucky Attorney General's Office.
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It is impossible to write a story about Kim Davis without someone - usually many someones - commenting that she should be fired. Davis is the Rowan County, Kentucky, clerk who stopped processing marriage licenses due to her "Christian" beliefs, after the Supreme Court legalized marriage equality. Firing seems the obvious thing to do. But Davis is an elected official, which means there is no supervisor with the power to terminate her employment.
“No authority exists for her removal or suspension from the office by Rowan County government,” explained County Attorney Cecil Watkins, “Kentucky State Government is the only entity that can move to have Kim Davis removed as Rowan County Clerk.”
On Thursday, the government of Rowan County took the first step down the road of having her removed. The City Attorney's Office referred official misconduct charges against Kim Davis to the State Attorney General, Jack Conway. Conway is a Democrat who refused to defend Kentucky's ban on same-sex marriage, so Davis is not likely to find a champion for her cause in the A.G.'s office.
Rowan County officials announced Friday that they have asked the attorney general to charge Kim Davis with misconduct under KRS 522.020 and KRS 522.030. One is a Class A misdemeanor punishable with imprisonment not to exceed 12 months and fine of $500. The other is a Class B misdemeanor punishable with up to 90 days imprisonment and a fine of $250. Which degree of culpability applies to Ms. Davis would be decided after a guilty verdict at trial, but the offense is the same:
“A public servant is guilty of official misconduct in the first degree when, with intent to obtain or confer a benefit or to injure another person or to deprive another person of a benefit, knowingly commits an act relating to his office which constitutes an unauthorized exercise of his official functions or refrains from performing a duty imposed upon him by law or clearly inherent in the nature of his office or violates any statute or lawfully adopted rule or regulation relating to his office.”
If Attorney General Conway agrees with the Rowan County Attorney, Clerk Kim Davis will have to defend her actions in state court - but not in Rowan County.
“Kentucky Bar Association rules of the Supreme Court of Kentucky prohibit the Rowan County Attorney's Office from prosecuting Kim Davis due to being involved in current litigation with Davis,” County Attorney Cecil Watkins explained in a written statement. “Typically, the Attorney General's Office refers conflict cases to a prosecutor from another county.”
A spokeswoman for the Attorney General's Office told reporters they are "looking into the matter."
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