City of Frankfort spent $80k to hire private dicks, investigate local GOP; some say they went too far

City of Frankfort spent $80k on private dicks to investigate local GOP; some say they went too far

anytime an individual representing a government entity comes to my property uninvited is intimidating and an invasion of privacy

Franklin County Republican Party member

In January 2022, Frankfort City Commissioner Kyle Thompson was in hot water after penning a sexist text message and sending it to a colleague. The message was shared in a formal complaint, and the city began the process to remove Thompson, then the only elected Republican in Frankfort, from his post.

The Frankfort GOP did what any reasonable group would do in that situation: they invited him to be keynote speaker at their monthly meeting! Seriously. That happened.

Mr. Thompson must have spilled some hot tea at the meeting, because in March, a member came home to an interesting discovery, which he shared with the Times in an email:

On Tuesday March 8th , I came home from a meeting and found a ‘post-it’ note with a business card on my front door. The note requested that I call the person on the business card. Upon reading the card, it revealed that the individual was an ‘Investigator’ for a law firm in Louisville Kentucky.

Frankfort GOP member, via email

“I immediately contacted the individual, and after some hesitation the individual finally admitted that he was representing Frankfort city government,” the email continues,  “I immediately became angry and somewhat intimidated because I was being visited by an agent of a government entity.  I allowed him to ask his questions because I wanted to learn as much as I could of his overreach; but I was cautious and respectful.”

The Frankfort Republican says the city investigator was asking questions about the content of the January Franklin County Republican Party monthly meeting. In a phone interview, the source did admit that it was “probably a bad idea” for leadership to invite Thompson in the first place.

No citizen should be harassed by agents of any government entities concerning civil matters involving individuals of that governmental agency; keeping in mind, that all these entities are representing all of us and we pay the salaries of the employees and elect the civic leaders.

Currently, with the exception of one elected official, none of the city officials, elected and appointed, are Republicans.  These individuals, with our tax payer money authorized a law firm and their agents to investigate our members at their homes to extract information from our Republican monthly meeting.  This is absolutely deplorable!

Frankfort GOP member, via email

They even broke the FCRP members’ interactions with the private dicks down into the following bullet points:

  • “as of 3/18/22, I know of 14 members of the Franklin County Republican party who have received home visits from the investigator representing the City of Frankfort.”
  • “one of our members was visited the week of March 6; then she was visited twice on March 15.  The first visit, she was very clear that she did not want to get involved but the agent ignored her request. She has a ‘Ring’ doorbell and was able to see him on video so she could wait inside until he was gone.”
  • “on March 17, the day of the hearing, one of our members who was subpoenaed for the hearing, received a phone call prior to the hearing from the lead attorney for the City of Frankfort; she asked him a leading question about, ‘if he had heard any complaints of intimidation about the ‘investigator’?  He responded to her ‘yes’! and explained that, ‘anytime an individual representing a government entity comes to my property uninvited is intimidating and an invasion of privacy’.  His subpoena was cancelled after that conversation.”
  • “I spoke to the mayor twice, both times he seemed ‘concerned’ about the home visits.  The second time, he had much more concern and even claimed he just got off the phone with the City Attorney concerning the home visits.  This was the March 11 conversation.  Although he seemed concerned about this, the visits continued all the way through 3/16.”

Frankfort City Clerk Chermie Maxwell, in a possible violation of state open records law, claimed the city had no records regarding the agents. Whatever you say, Chermie.

The law firm in question appears to be Louisville’s Clay & Daniel Law Firm, in case you were wondering. (Documents provided by the city show they worked on the case.)

Thompson, a lawyer himself, tried every trick in the book to get out of it, but was eventually removed 🥾 He submitted a lengthy 964 word statement to the Times regarding the matter. Uhh.. thanks, Kyle?

Okay, fine. What’s the damage?

City officials originally set a $20K limit on legal fees for the fishing expedition, but in May, City Solicitor Laura Ross sent the Board of Commissioners a letter that said:

legal fees have now exceeded the $20,000 limit and owe an additional $21,000. It is difficult to estimate how much more time and funds will need to be allocated to this matter. The City’s insurance unfortunately will not cover related costs at this time, although I intend to follow up regarding coverage as the litigation moves forward. Further, as I am a named party, I am unable to assist with defense to the extent I usually would.

Laura Ross, Frankfort City Solicitor, May 9, 2022 letter

When asked to cover it, the city’s insurance company presumably LOL’d and was like, “nah, man, we’re good!” Big oof.

The total cost to Frankfort taxpayers? $80K straight to the lawyers. Cha-ching! 💸