Gov. Matt Bevin has launched an investigation into potential corruption under former Gov. Steve Beshear’s administration.
In a press conference Tuesday, Bevin alleged state employees were coerced into contributing to Democratic political campaigns, including those of Attorney General Andy Beshear and Bevin’s opponent in the governor’s race, former Attorney General Jack Conway.
Bevin said employees have come forward and said they were “essentially coerced” into making contributions and “they complied of fear of loss of their jobs or other retribution.”
“We have learned from many rank-and-file employees of closed-door demands by high level Beshear administration officials that they make contributions to Democratic candidates in the last election,” Bevin said.
Former Gov. Beshear’s secretary of the Personnel Cabinet, Tim Longmeyer, is currently under investigation for a kickback scheme that allegedly directed state contracts to a consulting firm in exchange for campaign donations and cash.
Bevin called on Attorney General Andy Beshear, the former governor’s son, to return “thousands and thousands of questionable contributions” made to his campaign during 2014 and 2015.
“Return of these contributions by the Beshear campaign will go a long way towards showing the people of Kentucky that it is not business as usual in this new Beshear administration in the attorney general’s office,” he said.
“Attorney General Beshear’s refusal to return these contributions will say exactly the opposite,” Bevin added.
Bevin also alleged that the members of the previous administration abused the state procurement system by awarding no-bid contracts for major projects.
In his summary of the procurement problems, Bevin questioned why a no-bid contract for fraud detection was awarded to SAS Institute of North Carolina, which had connections to Beshear’s former Executive Cabinet Secretary Mary Lassiter.
In a statement released Tuesday afternoon, Attorney General Beshear accused Bevin of overstating his authority.
“As the head of an office that is statutorily charged with investigating allegations of corruption, I agree that issues such as no-bid contracts should be carefully scrutinized, including the two no-bid contracts totaling $4 million awarded by the Bevin administration in its first three months,” Beshear said. “The appropriate agency, however, for investigating the governor’s allegations is the Kentucky Executive Branch Ethics Commission, an independent agency, and not a cabinet that answers to the governor.”
Bevin also alleged benefits being unjustly awarded to volunteer firefighters.
Bevin announced that the state is launching an investigation into the alleged corruption, to be headed up by Finance Cabinet Secretary Bill Landrum.
This story was produced by Ryland Barton, a reporter with our news partner Kentucky Public Radio.