The Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission has publicly reprimanded Whitley and McCreary Circuit Judge Dan Ballou for sending campaign materials via email to all circuit judges last year touting Rand Paul in his bid for the U.S. Senate.
On Jan. 25, 2010, Ballou sent an e-mail, which contained campaign materials for Rand Paul for U.S. Senate. It contained four-pages of campaign material for Paul and that indicated it was paid for by Rand Paul for U.S. Senate. The material detailed Paul’s stance on the Second Amendment and other issues.
One of the judges, who apparently received the e-mail, was Eddy Coleman, a member of the Judicial Conduct Commission, who forwarded the e-mail to most other members of the Judicial Conduct Commission on April 6, according to documents in Ballou’s formal file.
"The commission has determined with Judge Ballou’s agreement that he sent an e-mail, which contained campaign materials for Rand Paul for U.S. Senate to all Kentucky circuit judges and to more than 50 other addresses," according to the agreed order of public reprimand.
"In doing so, Judge Ballou violated the Kentucky Code of Judicial Conduct SCR 4.300, Canon 5A(1)(b) by publicly endorsing a candidate for public office and Canon 5A(4) by engaging in political activity. For this conduct, Judge Ballou has agreed to accept a public reprimand.
Ballou declined to comment on the reprimand, except to say in an e-mail that, "I have a lot more important things to be concerned with."
In his answer to the charges filed on Jan. 21, Ballou stated he had no intention of violating the judicial canons when he forwarded the email from his personal computer to "a limited number of fellow judges, none of whom could be reasonably expected to be subject to improper political persuasion or influence."
The canons, which govern judicial conduct, state that judges or judicial candidates shall refrain from "inappropriate political activity."
This includes publicly endorsing or opposing a candidate for public office or to make a contribution to a political organization or candidate.
The Judicial Conduct Commission is the only entity authorized under the Kentucky Constitution to take disciplinary action against a sitting Kentucky judge. The Commission investigates and reviews complaints against judges and, when warranted, conducts hearings regarding the alleged misconduct where evidence is presented.
Other counts dismissed
The conduct commission dismissed another judicial misconduct charge against Ballou that alleged during the 2008 election cycle, Ballou contributed $562 to the John McCain 2008 Inc. committee.
In his answer to the charges, Ballou said while he was deployed on military duty serving in Iraq, he bought goods bearing McCain’s likeness or logo as presents for family members.
"In view of the agreed disposition made in this order and Judge Ballou’s agreement that he will not engage in conduct violating the Code of Judicial Conduct in the future, Count I is hereby dismissed," the agreed order stated.
A third count against Ballou was dismissed about two months after it was filed.