Metcalf puzzled by Comer’s rant

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By Randy Patrick

An angry Twitter message by a Republican congressman in October has raised questions about whether he knew Brad Metcalf was going to be fired from his job as chief clerk of the Kentucky House of Representatives.

In October, U.S. Rep. James Comer of Tompkinsville directed an angry, vulgar tweet to Metcalf.

“Hey, Brad, when the House finally fires your dumb––– (which will be very soon) for being a lazy dumb sh––, David Williams can help you find a job cleaning sh—stains off the commodes in the Corner Pool Room in Burkesville. But I’m sure you won’t last long there because everyone hates you and you are dumb and lazy,” Comer said.

The message was reported in a column published Jan. 4 by Courier Journal political writer Joseph Gerth, who confirmed that the private direct message was sent to an account called Frankfort Blindside at the Twitter handle @kyblindside from Comer’s verified account.

The David Williams he referenced was the former president of the Kentucky Senate.

Metcalf said in an interview with The Standard Monday that he was taken aback by the tweet.

“I had considered Jamie a friend,” Metcalf said. When he got the tweet, he said, he messaged Comer and copied then-House Speaker Hoover, R-Jamestown, asking if someone else might have sent it from Comer’s account. He never got a reply from Comer, and Hoover said he didn’t know why Comer would send such a message.

“I’ve had no communication with him since then,” he said of Comer.

When Metcalf was fired Jan. 1, he told The Standard at the time it was “retribution” for his testimony to an investigator for the Legislative Ethics Commission who was looking into a sexual harassment charge against Hoover involving a staff member and the accusation that Hoover made a settlement payment to the woman.

However, he was told by the lawyer and HR director who fired him that it was because of some old criminal charges against him that surfaced in another investigation into the same harassment case by a law firm hired by the Republican House leadership.

Besides Hoover and the woman, the settlement names the former speaker’s chief of staff, Ginger Wills, three other Republican representatives: Brian Linder, who has admitted he was a party to the settlement, Jim DeCesare and Michael Meredith.

Wills replaced Metcalf as chief of staff of the Republican leadership in 2016. Metcalf said Tuesday he was demoted to House clerk but given a raise.

Wills was Comer’s chief of staff when he was the state commissioner of agriculture.

In his resignation as speaker Monday night, Hoover accused Metcalf, without naming him, of scheming against him because he didn’t get the job he wanted.

Comer, an ally of Hoover’s, ran for governor in 2015 but was defeated in the Republican primary by Gov. Matt Bevin after allegations were made that in college he had assaulted a girlfriend.

“There’s clearly a divide between the Comer camp and the Bevin camp,” Metcalf said. “I think there’s some friction … from that governor’s primary, and for some reason or another, I have been put into the non-Comer camp, so I guess that puts me at odds with them. Of course the former speaker and Jamie are very close,” he said.