Kentucky House impeaches suspended prosecutor who reportedly traded nudes for favors

by Liam Niemeyer, Kentucky Lantern

The Kentucky House of Representatives unanimously voted Thursday afternoon to impeach a suspended elected prosecutor who reportedly asked for nude photos and videos in exchange for prosecutorial favors. 

An impeachment committee, chaired by Rep. Daniel Elliott, R-Danville, had advanced three articles of impeachment earlier this week against Commonwealth’s Attorney Ronnie Goldy. 

A Louisville Courier Journal report in July 2022 had found Goldy — the commonwealth’s attorney for the 21st Judicial Circuit serving Rowan, Menifee, Bath and Montgomery counties —  had exchanged hundreds of pages worth of social media messages with a defendant saying he would set aside warrants or continue her cases in exchange for nude images. 

The Kentucky Supreme Court had suspended Goldy in December 2022 shortly after a state association representing commonwealth’s attorneys had expelled Goldy from the group. The state’s highest court in its suspension order said only the legislature could ultimately have him removed from office through impeachment. 

Elliott, speaking on the House floor, said he had heard that Goldy reportedly planned to resign in late February. 

“The purpose of impeachment is not just to force bad actors to resign, but it’s to ensure that the public trust cannot be further betrayed or even delayed,” Elliott said. “Will we send a message that this kind of conduct is simply unacceptable?”

An email to an attorney for Goldy was not immediately returned. 

In an interview after the House had adjourned, Elliott said the three articles of impeachment would be sent to the state Senate, which would determine the timetable as to when to hold an impeachment trial. 

According to a 1991 report on impeachment in Kentucky, a committee of state representatives would prosecute the articles of impeachment during a trial in the Senate. Two-thirds of senators present would be needed to convict an elected official and bar them forever from holding future public office. 

“My interpretation of it would be that the Senate would have to receive the articles, and then determine the schedule and whether or not to hold a trial,” Elliott said. 

A spokesperson for Senate leaders said they had not yet received anything regarding the impeachment from the House. The spokesperson did not respond to a question on whether a trial would be held.

Elliott said a letter he’s seen that was sent to Gov. Andy Beshear stated Goldy planned to resign Feb. 28. Depending on how soon the Senate holds a potential trial, he said, Goldy could be removed from office before his resignation. 

Elliott said the impeachment committee has not yet determined whether to move forward with an impeachment inquiry into a second commonwealth’s attorney, Rick Boling, who reportedly falsified testimony that led to an indictment. Boling has also resigned.  

Only a few impeachments have ever happened in Kentucky history. A state agriculture commissioner, Democrat Ward “Butch” Burnette, was impeached in 1991, but the state Senate voted to terminate trial proceedings after Burnette had resigned. In the 19th century, “Honest Dick” Tate, a state treasurer was convicted by the Senate in an impeachment trial for embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from state coffers. 

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Photo:  Rep. Daniel Elliott, R-Danville, stands as he reads through the articles of impeachment on the House floor Thursday. (Photo for Kentucky Lantern by Liam Niemeyer)