Kelso: Accusations are untrue

In a search of e-mails provided by NKU Legal Services, Northerner editors have found no evidence of Dean of Students Kent Kelso using his office computer or resources to run his campaign.

The Northerner completed an open records request yesterday regarding Kelso’s campaign for Kenton County Commissioner.

The Northerner asked for the records following reports that Assistant Kenton County Attorney Brandon Voelker had filed a request under Kentucky Open Records Act for phone records, e-mails, work schedules and budget information. Prior to the release of the records, Cathy Dewberry, Assistant to Vice President of Legal Services, said, “We screen all requested records to remove any information pertaining to students before we release them.”

Voelker made the request because he believed that Kelso was using his time on campus and his influence as a university administrator to forward his political campaign.

Voelker’s wife, Sara Voelker, is running against Kelso in the May 16 Republican primary for Kenton County Commissioner.

The request was filed by Covington lawyer Paul Vesper, a Democrat, and drafted by Voelker, a Republican.

In an interview last week, Voelker said there was merit to his request. He said several e-mails indicated improper use.

The Northerner did not find the e-mails Voelker referenced.

When asked why a fax containing notations on Kelso’s phone records came from a fax number listed to the Kenton County Attorney’s office, Voelker responded by saying that the fax number was a general number that everyone in the building used.

Voelker also denied calling university officials to accuse Kelso of using the student newspaper to further his campaign.

The Northerner Editor-in-Chief Sarah Loman said the paper is an independent publication, and students make all decisions.

“Dean Kelso has not, at any time, exerted pressure or influence on The Northerner for any reason,” Loman said. “No one outside of The Northerner staff has any influence on the content of this paper, nor will they ever.”

Vesper also requested NKU President James Votruba’s schedules and appointments to determine if Kelso and Votruba were involved in any political activity.

Votruba has said repeatedly that the university promotes civic involvement by faculty, staff and students.

Kelso has already said that he is not campaigning from his office and is not worried by the accusations.

“No, I don’t think it will have an adverse affect on my campaign,” he said.

Kentucky Revised Statutes say, in part, that state or federal employees can’t use their positions to influence anyone who is voting or deciding on any issue in any state or local election. Also, they say that no state or federal employees will use their positions to try and secure an appointment or advantage in voting situations.

These statutes were last in the news in 2000 when former Lieutenant Governor Steve Henry was accused of planning his wedding to former Miss America Heather French-Henry with state resources and on office time.

Henry was required to repay some of the cost of wedding planning after the investigation.