A condemned killer’s fight to receive surgery for agonizing hip pain has pushed Kentucky officials into an uncomfortable debate over security and politics.

Emails and memos obtained by The Associated Press show corrections officials struggling to reconcile their duty to provide medical care with the political ramifications of spending tens of thousands of dollars for surgery on a man they plan to execute.

A key problem would turn out to be security issues that led several hospitals to balk at treating inmate Robert Foley.

“Hip replacement for an inmate who has exhausted all appeals and will soon be executed?” Kentucky State Penitentiary warden Phil Parker wrote in an email on Nov. 22, 2010.

“I can see this making Fox News on a slow news day, maybe even on a busy news day. ”

Prison officials also made contingency plans to call off the surgery if Gov. Steve Beshear set an execution date, and they considered whether to consult with him about the procedure.

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