Daniel Groves, Fletcher's 36-year-old senior adviser, said he had first told the governor of his intentions to resign on Sept. 1. His resignation was effective immediately.How many more will resign?
"It's something that I've been contemplating for a number of months," Groves said during a telephone interview.
Groves marks the second high-ranking member of the administration to resign this month. Last week, Fletcher's top spokeswoman Carla Blanton announced she was resigning effective this Friday.
Groves said his resignation was unrelated to Attorney General Greg Stumbo's ongoing investigation into the administration's hiring practices.
However, the investigation delayed his decision, Groves said.
Since May, Stumbo's office has been investigating Fletcher's administration over alleged improprieties concerning Merit System personnel decisions. State law prohibits rank-and-file personnel decisions from being based on politics, instead of a candidate's qualifications.
Nine current or former members of the administration were charged with various misdemeanors stemming from the investigation. One of the nine was also charged with multiple felonies for alleged witness tampering.
Fletcher pardoned them and anyone else who could be charged in the investigation late last month.
Still, Groves said neither the investigation, nor the pardons were a source for his resignation.
"The only role that it's played in this is that it delayed my decision. I'm leaving with a clear conscience," Groves said. "I think the governor did, and is doing, what is in the best interest of moving the state forward and I support him."
Groves said his marriage in April also contributed to his decision to pursue other opportunities.
During Fletcher's first year in office, Groves served as the governor's chief of staff - a position he held until November 2004, when Fletcher shuffled his executive cabinet. Stan Cave, a former House lawmaker and attorney from Lexington, succeeded Groves as chief of staff.
As part of the shift, Groves was named Fletcher's senior adviser.
At the time, Fletcher was nearing the end of a turbulent first year in office, in which the General Assembly did not pass a state budget because it was deadlocked over his proposal to overhaul the tax code.
Fletcher's first year in office was also dampened when teachers and public school employees threatened to strike over the administration's 2005 health insurance proposal. The governor called the General Assembly into a special session to deal with the health insurance issue and lawmakers resolved the crisis by passing a plan sweetening their benefits.
Since becoming the governor's senior adviser, Groves has focused on establishing a branch office in Washington. Groves said he also focused on pushing the governor's tax plan and, more recently, on policy issues for the upcoming legislative session.
Groves' first started working for Fletcher in 1994 as treasurer of his campaign for the state House. In 1997, Groves managed Fletcher's congressional campaign and then became his chief of staff.[...]
In a written statement, Fletcher said Groves had been a friend of his for more than 10 years.
"I wish him the very best in his new endeavors," Fletcher stated in the press release.
Monday, September 12, 2005
Another aide to Ernie Fletcher has resigned.