A bill filed this week in the General Assembly would require law enforcement agencies to disclose more details about cash and property seized through asset forfeiture or be subjected to financial penalties. Rep. Reginald Meeks, a Louisville Democrat, is sponsoring the measure, which would beef up existing reporting requirements. Agencies that don’t comply would lose $4,000 reimbursements from a state fund for individual officers who complete continued training. Law enforcement agencies are already required to file annual reports detailing how much cash and property they seize, but not all do. State data analyzed by the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting found just 11 percent of law enforcement agencies submitted required reports each year between fiscal years 2013-2017.
Two state cabinets are appealing a judge’s order that they must reimburse the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting for legal costs after withholding public records. Franklin Circuit Court Judge Phillip J. Shepherd ruled this spring that the Labor and Finance and Administration cabinets “willfully” violated open records laws when they refused to release the names of employees accused of sexual harassment, but internal investigations didn’t deem the allegations substantiated. Shepherd ordered the Labor Cabinet to pay more than $17,000, and the Finance and Administration Cabinet to pay more than $19,000, to KyCIR for legal costs and penalties. In a Monday filing, the Labor Cabinet said that Shepherd’s decision to award fees was an “abuse of discretion.” The cabinet argued that it operated in “good faith” in its decision to withhold records, and should not be punished for its interpretation of the law. That cabinet has already turned over the name it previously withheld of a staffer accused of sexual harassment. Court records show that Hector Fonseca was under a court order to stay away from a woman who accused him of domestic violence when a coworker in September 2016 said Fonseca exposed himself and forced her to touch his genitals.