[JURIST] Republican Governor Ernie Fletcher [official website] of Kentucky pleaded not guilty Friday to charges [indictment, PDF; JURIST report] of criminal conspiracy, official misconduct and political discrimination stemming from an investigation into the governor's hiring practices [timeline]. Fletcher's attorney entered the not guilty plea on behalf of Fletcher while he vacationed in Florida. Franklin District Judge David Melcher set a tentative trial date of Nov. 8.
The indictment alleges that Fletcher and other members of his administration delved into past political affiliations and contributions of government job candidates, rather than basing hiring practices on merit as the law requires. Possible penalties for Fletcher range from six months to a year in jail and a $500 fine. AP has more. From Louisville, the Courier-Journal has local coverage.