Lexington, Kentucky , United States
|| November 12, 1952
Nov 30, 2012 01:08pm
Caucasian - Conservative - Anti-Civil Unions - Anti-Gay Marriage - Pro Alaska/Offshore Oil Drilling - Pro- gun - Pro-Bush Tax Cuts - Pro-Capital Punishment - Pro-Life - U.S. Air Force - Christian -
|Info||Ernest Lee Fletcher has served as governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky since 2003. He is a member of the Republican Party. Governor Fletcher is married to his high school sweetheart, Glenna Foster. They have two children and four grandchildren. |
Fletcher was born in Mount Sterling, Kentucky. He received his B.Sc. degree from the University of Kentucky College of Engineering in 1974, where he was a member of Delta Tau Delta social fraternity. Fletcher went on to graduate from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine.
He served as a fighter pilot in the United States Air Force.
After receiving his medical degree, he practiced as a family physician for twelve years. He has also served as a Baptist lay minister.
Fletcher was elected to the Kentucky House of Representatives for the 78th District in 1994. He served one term, until legislative redistricting forced him and another Republican, State Representative Stan Cave, into the same district. Fletcher did not stand for re-election, but rather ran for Kentucky's 6th District seat in the United States House of Representatives. He lost the 1996 race to incumbent Democrat Congressman Scotty Baesler, but ran again in 1998, beating Democrat State Senator Ernesto Scorsone. He held this office until he was elected as Governor.
He became governor of Kentucky in December 2003 after defeating Democrat Ben Chandler 55%-45% in the election the previous month.
As Governor, Fletcher reorganized parts of state government, condensing the number of cabinets from 14 to nine, and dissolved the former Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and created the new Kentucky Horse Racing Authority, which promotes and regulates Kentucky's signature industry. He has rolled back Medicaid requirements and unveiled a plan to "modernize" Medicaid and focus on improvements in care, benefit management and technology. Governor Fletcher unveiled "Get Healthy Kentucky!," an initiative to promote healthier lifestyles for Kentuckians.
On June 9, 2004, while en route to memorial services for former president Ronald Reagan, the governor's plane inadvertently caused a security scare and was nearly shot down by the U.S. Air Force. It caused the Capitol to be evacuated, because the plane's transponder failed while in restricted airspace. The security scare happened just moments before the plane with Reagan's body touched down at Andrews Air Force Base.
Fletcher had low approval ratings for much of his first year in office. Most controversy focused on increasing costs of health insurance for state employees.
However, during his second year in office, Fletcher achieved the passage of a comprehensive tax reform package. The passage of tax reform was one one of Fletcher's key campaign pledges. By March 2005, Fletcher's approval rating reached 52%, according to a Louisville Courier-Journal poll; a Survey USA poll around the same time found his approval rating below 40% and lower than that of every other governor in the nation at the time save for two. After Fletcher issued pardons to members of his administration for violations of state merit system laws, polls indicated his approval rating had decreased even more. Fewer than 20% of respondents said that they planned to vote to re-elect Fletcher in 2007. A Courier-Journal poll released in mid-September found Fletcher's approval rating at 38%, tying the low rating previously reached by his predecessor Patton.
In May 2005 controversies began to mount regarding the Fletcher administration's disregard of the state merit system in hiring, promoting, demoting and firing state employees based on political loyalties. Douglas W. Doerting, a Transportation Cabinet employee, brought allegations of illegal hiring to state Democratic Attorney General Greg Stumbo. The next month, a circuit court judge unsealed a so-called "hit list" of former administration employees, many of whom had been fired because of their ties to former Governor Paul Patton or due to their political affiliation.
On June 14, 2005, a special grand jury in Franklin County handed down indictments of three Transportation Cabinet officials: Acting Transportation Secretary Bill Nighbert, Deputy Secretary Jim Adams and administrative services commissioner Dan Druen. On July 7, 2005, more indictments were handed down, including Fletcher's deputy chief of staff.
On July 11, 2005, the grand jury struck closer to the Governor's mansion as three more indictments were handed down: against state Republican Party chairman Darrell Brock Jr., who was also the former commissioner of the Governor's Office for Local Development; Basil Turbyfill, the Governor's personnel adviser, and deputy personnel secretary; and Bob Wilson, deputy personnel secretary.
On August 29, 2005, Fletcher announced he had granted blanket criminal pardons to nine administration officials, including deputy chief of staff Richard Murgatroyd, who were or might have been indicted by the grand jury in this case (he did not pardon himself). On September 14 Fletcher fired nine employees, including four of the nine he pardoned two weeks earlier. Fletcher called for the firing of state Republican Party chair Darrell Brock, Jr. due to Brock's role in the merit scandal. On September 17 GOP leaders defied Fletcher and retained Brock as state party leader.