By Jack Brammer
FRANKFORT — Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear said Friday he finds no reason to remove Republican David M. Cross, an Albany attorney, from the state Board of Elections.
Questions arose earlier this week about whether Cross should be removed from the board for possibly violating a state law that says members cannot run for public office.
Cross, appointed by Beshear to the board in 2010, tried unsuccessfully in November to secure the Republican nomination for the open 16th Senate District seat in Southern Kentucky vacated by former Senate President David Williams.
Cross spent money to print flyers that said he was a “candidate” for the nomination. Republican Party leaders in the district eventually selected state Rep. Sara Beth Gregory of Monticello, who faces Democrat Bill Conn, a Williamsburg Independent school teacher, in a Dec. 18 special election.
State law defines a candidate as any person who raises and spends money to bring about his or her nomination or election.
Beshear said he has reviewed Cross’ situation “and I think he acted reasonably in determining that this special election process really wasn’t covered by that statute.
“I think there’s an argument back and forth on that but I don’t think he intentionally took any actions that violated that statute,” Beshear said.
The governor said he would inform Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, the state’s chief election official, about his review.
“I appreciate the governor’s position and, as I previously stated, I serve at his pleasure,” Cross said on Friday.
Beshear’s comments came during a brief news conference about an unrelated topic in the Capitol.
At the news conference, Beshear was wearing special glasses required by his Nov. 5 eye surgery for a detached retina. He said the surgery was successful and that it will take four or five weeks for his vision to correct itself.
On other issues, Beshear said:
■ The state expects to meet and possibly exceed its $55 million revenue target from a tax amnesty program that ended at 9 p.m. Friday.
■ He is excited about new Republican leadership in the state Senate but does not know how the changes will impact potential legislation to expand gambling in the state.
In Senate GOP leadership races earlier this week, Robert Stivers of Manchester replaced Williams of Burkesville, who left to accept a Beshear appointment as circuit court judge.
Also, Damon Thayer of Georgetown, who worked with Beshear earlier this year on expanded gambling to the dislike of some other GOP senators, became the new Senate majority leader.
“I look forward to a very good and positive working relationship” with the new leaders, Beshear said.
■ He did not know where the state will find additional money for its financially-strapped state pension system. “It will be a tough task. There aren’t any easy answers,” he said.
A legislative task force has said the state must pay far more into its state pension system — starting with an extra $327 million in Fiscal Year 2015 — and trim retirement benefits for new and existing workers.
■ He declined to comment on any of the recommendations made by a tax reform commission headed by Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson until after the group’s final meeting next week.
The governor said he would like to see the 2013 General Assembly address tax reform, but that may be difficult in a 30-day session that requires two-thirds votes in both chambers for passage of tax measures.