Months before he was criminally charged with taking bribes for steering state business to a Lexington consulting firm, former Kentucky Personnel Cabinet Secretary Tim Longmeyer joined the long list of so-called “double-dippers” rejoining the state payroll while receiving retirement benefits.
Longmeyer, 48, resigned from the Personnel Cabinet in September. Four months later, he was hired as a deputy under newly elected state Attorney General Andy Beshear, at an annual salary of $124,620. By then, he was already receiving — or waiting to receive — a monthly pension check from the Kentucky Retirement System, according to a document obtained by the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.
Double-dipping is legal. As of last June 30, 1,520 former state, city and county workers were taking their pensions while working new jobs covered by KRS, according to the system’s annual report for 2015. Some lawmakers and critics of government spending frown on the practice.
“The double-dipping — and even triple-dipping — is part of the culture of Frankfort,” said Jim Waters, president of the Bluegrass Institute, a conservative thinktank in Lexington. “It’s become so accepted that it is just part of the culture, and it’s not acceptable with taxpayers who are facing carrying the lion’s share of the $34.7 billion unfunded liability” at KRS.
KRS Executive Director Bill Thielen said Thursday that state law forbids him from discussing Longmeyer’s pension benefit — or even confirming that he is receiving one. But in the course of taking the job as a deputy attorney general, Longmeyer certified in December that he is either receiving or had applied to receive his state retirement benefit. The certification was included on a KRS form in which Longmeyer said he did not have a “pre-arranged agreement” prior to retirement to take another job covered by KRS.
Last Friday, federal prosecutors in Lexington announced that Longmeyer, a Democrat, had been charged with accepting bribes during his term as Kentucky’s Personnel Cabinet secretary from 2011 to 2015. The 12-page complaint states that Longmeyer received more than $200,000 in exchange for persuading administrators of the Kentucky Employees’ Health Plan, Humana and Anthem, to give $2 million worth of contracts to a Lexington market research firm.
Longmeyer was not arrested but given until April 20 to make his initial appearance before a federal judge in Lexington. He resigned from the attorney general’s office two days before the charges were filed. He could not be reached for comment Thursday.
According to his employment files Longmeyer joined the Jefferson County Attorney’s office in April 1991 as a law clerk and rose to director of legislative affairs by the time he joined the Personnel Cabinet in 2008.
Thielen said state, city and county workers on the rolls before September 2008 must either retire at age 65 or after 27 years of service to receive full pension benefits. In the case of someone filing for benefits at the age of 48 — like Longmeyer — the monthly benefit would be lower.
“If you have at least 25 years of service, you can retire at any age, but at a reduced benefit — or 6 percent less for each year,” Thielen said.
As Personnel Cabinet secretary, Longmeyer served as an ex-officio member of the KRS Board of Trustees until 2015.
Reporter James McNair can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and (502) 814.6543.