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Thursday, December 8, 2022
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HomeOpinionEditorialAS WE SEE IT: Rumors and politics

AS WE SEE IT: Rumors and politics

As a newspaper, we hear lots of rumors. Every now and then one of them turns out to have some substance to it, but for the most part they come to nothing. Still, this doesn’t stop us from looking into them.

Before we report on anything we do research it however. And if we can’t substantiate the rumors, we usually drop the story.

This is our job, after all. If we can’t verify the facts we report, we aren’t a newspaper. Newspapers report facts, not conjecture, gossip or rumor. We could sell a lot more papers employing such tabloid tactics, I’m sure. But we wouldn’t have your trust, and that trust is more important to us than any number of papers we could sell by reporting on a rumor – even if we ultimately report it can’t be proven. This is a tactic we see in a lot of political punditry and fringe podcasting. It’s the old, “I’m not saying it, I’m just asking questions” or “I’m just telling you what people are saying” line that allows the reporter to absolve themselves of responsibility while still profiting from the unsubstantiated rumor mill.

However sometimes, when the rumors are swirling and have been brought up in the course of a political debate or QA session, it might be incumbent on us to go ahead and report on them.

The Carter County jailer race is one such situation.

Challenger Charles Kiser noted in his QA session with the Olive Hill Chamber that he was asked to run for office because of conflict between the jailer and the courthouse.

We noted in our coverage that while Kiser didn’t mention the incident specifically, jailer R.W. Boggs’ girlfriend was involved in a lawsuit with the county related to a claim of hostile work environment.

There were claims out of the courthouse earlier this year that alleged fiscal irresponsibility on Boggs’ part, including claims that he did not pay his bills in a timely manner.

A thorough investigation revealed that while the jail didn’t always pay bills right away, it was because they were often renegotiating the billing to have superfluous costs removed.

As Boggs told us at the time, “if it was a true bill, we’d pay it.” But, he said, he wasn’t going to pay any bill that included charges that the jail wasn’t responsible for, or that were billed above the rate the jail was legally bound to cover.

Carter County Treasurer Beth Justice said she had no evidence that Boggs was not paying his bills in a timely manner.

Another allegation was that Boggs had lost state and federal contracts, and alienated officials with the state department of corrections. However initial contacts with those entities revealed no rift between their departments and the jail, or any change in business other than the changes prompted by COVID in jails across the state.

Because our investigation revealed no wrongdoing on Boggs’ part, rather than feed the rumor mill we never did a story on the allegations. We are now being asked about these issues again, however.

Because of this we feel it’s incumbent on us to let our readers know we are aware of these rumors. We’ve looked into them. And we’ve found no evidence to support them.

Likewise we’ve looked into rumors about the eligibility of Sheriff Jeff May and determined that he is qualified to serve as sheriff – and is in fact exempt under KRS from the restrictions that some anonymous critics have said disqualify him from serving as a law enforcement officer.

We also received a large packet of information on challenger Eric Ross last week and, in the course of reviewing the information sent to us, determined that it actually showed all complaints against Ross had been dismissed. When contacted for comment Ross said his role in the incident in question had only been to retrieve a first aid kit from his vehicle and that he was swept up in a lawsuit that included everyone who responded to the scene.

There are still some budgeting questions that we are looking into, and if we find inconsistencies in any candidate statements related to that, we will follow up.

We owe it to you, our readers, to look into these things and to determine their veracity. If we find wrongdoing, we owe it to you to report on it.

But we will not allow our platform to be used for partisan character attacks that have no basis in verifiable fact.

We each have our own political beliefs and inclinations. And it’s fine at times to express them on the opinion page.

Our news pages, however, will remain dedicated to verifiable facts, no matter what the political bent or inclination of our editorial board or office holders. That’s our promise to you, and we intend to stand by it.

Contact the writer at editor@cartercountytimes.com

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