Republican leadership in the General Assembly has stocked a committee full of former law enforcement and legal professionals and given them an investigative aim and subpoena powers.
The Legislative Oversight and Investigations Committee kicked off their business last week, but the real fireworks should arrive post-Independence Day as Republicans are expected to begin to dig into Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s administration.
Legislation passed in the 2021 session altered the previous Program Review Committee, and given it a new name and larger fangs. The new Legislative Oversight and Investigations Committee can call witnesses, issue subpoenas, and report their findings to law enforcement or other jurisdictions, like the Auditor, according to the new law.
House and Senate leadership have named Sen. Danny Carroll and Rep. Jason Nemes as the chairmen of the joint committee. Carroll, R-Benton, is the former Assistant Police Chief of the Paducah Police Department. The House co-chair, Rep. Nemes, R-Louisville, is a lawyer and previously served as the Director of the Administrative Office of the Courts.
The committee also has Republicans who have served federal law enforcement, including Sen. Max Wise, R-Campbellsville, a retired Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) analyst. Another GOP member of the committee, Rep. Scott Sharp, R-Ashland, retired as a special agent with the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command after 22-years of service. Scott calls the position the Army’s version of the FBI.
There is also Rep. John Blanton on the committee, R-Salyersville, a former major with the Kentucky State Police.
The committee is also stocked full of lawyers, including Sen. Jason Howell, R-Murray; Sen. Wil Schroder, R-Wilder; Sen. Brandon J. Storm, R-London; Sen. Reggie Thomas, D-Lexington; and Rep. Angie Hatton, D-Whitesburg.
Democrats are outgunned on this investigative committee that also follows a new set of rules. The working papers and information gathered in the committee are exempt from open records law. The committee also has the authority to penalize anyone who does not comply with a subpoena.
The penalty for non-compliance is $100 per day and a maximum penalty of $1,000.